a social view by defining pragmatics as speaker meaning and overlooking hearer’s interpretation or utterance interpretation (ibid.). Both of this aspects are taken into account by Yule (1996) who defines pragmatics as “the study of meaning as communicated by a speaker (or writer) and interpreted by a listener (or reader). This definition of pragmatics contains precise description of the field of study. Firstly, Yule writes that pragmatics is “the study of speaker meaning “, the study of what the speaker means and intends by his utterance. Secondly, pragmatics is “the study of contextual meaning”, how context influences what is said and how speech is structured in accordance with who is listening. Secondly, the field can be defined as “the study of how more gets communicated than is said “. In other words, pragmatics studies what inferences can be made from the speaker’s utterances. Finally, Yule states that pragmatics is “the study of the expression of relative distance, how the speaker and here’s experienced closeness or distance affects what is said or not said.
As Yule, also Thomas (1995) considers that both speaker meaning and utterance interpretation are important in the definition of pragmatics. In effect, Thomas’s definition of pragmatics as the study of “meaning in interaction” (1995) is another definition of pragmatics. According to Thomas, pragmatics is meaning in interaction since language use is a dynamic process; the speaker and the listener are both making meaning in communication and the physical, social and linguistic context influence the meaning.
Pragmatics differs from such linguistic areas as syntax and semantics in that it analyses human actions. This has its advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, it is interesting to study the way people make sense of each other, on the other hand, it is challenging to study individuals and their minds (Yule1996). Moreover, Cristal (2010) states that in theory, anything can be said but in reality, speech is always governed by different social rules and different aspects of pragmatics influence the use of language, use is governed by various conventions, by politeness and by conversation structure.
The knowledge of pragmatic aspect of language is acknowledged as an important goal in language learning. Different curricula have noticed that language learners have to be able to use the conventions of the target language successfully in order to participate in a conversation.
This implies that learners need to develop their L2 pragmatic competence which consists of the knowledge of pragmatic aspect such as speech acts, politeness conventions and conversations structure.
2.2 Semantics versus pragmatics
Semantics and pragmatics involve the study of meaning in a particular language. The two terms, however, focus on different aspect of meaning. Semantics is the study of utterance meaning regardless of place and time of occurrence (Chierchia, McConnell & Genet, 1990). It is aimed at understanding the meaning of the word, phrase or sentence (Bowen, 2001). Pragmatics, on the other hand, refers to the study of how language is used to convey meanings in communication by speakers or writers. In particular, it deals with the appropriateness of language used in different social contexts, such as request, apologies, complaints, compliments, etc. Semantically, the example in Cohen (1996), “it’s hot in here,” is an informative expression a speaker addresses about the weather at that particular moment without any hidden meaning or implication. This meaning is similar to locutionary meaning termed by Cohen (1996). Pragmatic interpretation or illocutionary meaning (Cohen, 1996), however, requires a hearer to consider other environmental factors and social rules. This same utterance is probably intended as a request asking a hearer to do a corresponding action; the speaker may want a hearer to open a window because the weather is hot. It may also act as a complaint.
Thus, it is suggested that in addition to linguistic competence (the ability to use linguistic knowledge of a target language to convey the meaning, and to understand the meaning), L2 learners need to be able to distinguish the meaning of an expression made in context. This ability will help create successful cross-cultural communication. In other words, L2 learners need to be equipped with pragmatic competence so that they are able to achieve the communication goal.
2.3 Pragmatic competence versus pragmatic failure
Pragmatic competence is a component of communication competence (Bachman, 1990 Canale & Swain, 1980; Edwards & Cziser 2004; Hymes, 1917). Pragmatic competence can be defined as the ability to use language forms appropriately in a particular context (Kasper, 1997; McKay, 2002; Thomas, 1983; Xiao & Guangyi, 2005).
Pragmatic competence is classified into two segments: pragma-linguistic competence and socio-pragmatic competence. The former is the ability of using grammar rules to make sentences correctly. The latter, on the other hand, refers to the ability to communicate properly, according to the social rules of a language, lack of accurate interpretation or pragmatic competence may lead to cross-cultural communication mistakes.
Such mistakes or pragmatic failure was first defined by Thomas (1983) as the inability to use an appropriate language form to express the particular meaning for a particular context and to understand a speaker’s intention when she /he makes an utterance.
Socio-pragmatic failure, on the other hand, is caused by misunderstandings which arise from the different perceptions that affect linguistic choices during cross- cultural exchanges. Cultural differences between the target language and L1 language can also cause this type of mistake.
Considering degree of seriousness, pragmatic failure is more serious than linguistic failure (Thomas, 1983). A person might sound rude or disrespectful when he commits a pragmatic error which can lead communication breakdown. Thomas (1983) argues that cultural differences and negative transfer from learners, L1 to L2, could be one of the causes of pragmatic failure. Kasper (1997) addresses a different view arguing that inadequate pragmatic knowledge can also cause pragmatic failure. Yet another researcher, Mei-Xiao (2008) proposes three potential sources of pragmatic failure: 1) differences between a speaker’s culture and the target culture, 2) pragmatic transfer (the influence from a speaker’s native language, and culture on his or her pragmatic knowledge and performance, and 3) lack of pragmatic knowledge (Kasper, Blum & Kulka, 1993).
2 4.Pragmatic Awareness
As it is widely accepted that EFL learners lack opportunities to expose to a target English, and that pragmatic competence is important for successful international communication, scholars posit that one of the potential approaches to develop learners, pragmatic competence is to raise their pragmatic awareness (Rose, 1994 Bardovi – Harlige, 1996).
Rose (1994) suggests that pragmatic awareness rising has the distinct advantage of providing learners with primary information of the roles of pragmatics. Likewise, in her attempt to bring pragmatics and pedagogy together, Bardovi and Harlig (1996) state that raising pragmatic awareness is important to help develop learners’ pragmatic competence. A considerable number of researchers employed this approach in their studies to develop L2 learners’ pragmatic competence. Results show that it is an effective way (Kondo, 2002; Eslami Rasekh .2004; Safont Jorda, 2004).
Kondo (2002), for instance employed the pragmatic awareness raising approach to explore this kinds of pragmatic aspects learners become aware of through explicit pragmatic instruction. Thirty six Japanese EFL learners at a junior college in Japan took part in the experiment. They received 12- week instruction aiming to raise pragmatic awareness. After each week, all participants worked in group discussed about what they learned to find similarities and differences between English and Japanese. Their findings revealed that the participants became aware of pragmatic aspect of English.
In a similar study, Rasekh (2004) investigated the effect of metapragmatics on advanced EFL students. Sixty six Iranian EFL undergraduate students were asked to participate in the study. They took the pretest which was a multiple choice discourse completion test consisting of 26 situations about apologies, request and complaints in order to explore their pragmatic knowledge. After that they were randomly divided into two groups, 34 students in the experimental group and 32 in the control group. The explicit instruction employed with the experimental group comprised teacher-fronted discussion, cooperative grouping, role-plays, and other pragmatically-oriented activities. While the experimental group received instruction aimed to raise their pragmatic awareness, the control received normal instruction. After the 12-week instruction, all of the students took the same test again in order to check the effect of the explicit instruction. Results revealed that students, speech act comprehension improved significantly and that pragmatic competence could be developed through pragmatic awareness raising activities.
To conclude, the studies mentioned above have shown that pragmatic awareness rising is an effective method to improve EFL learners, pragmatic competence. It implies that this approach can be adapted in EFL settings to help develop learners’ pragmatic ability.
2.5 Cross-cultural pragmatics