Pragmatics research in Hungary

This paper has two aims. First, it presents a brief overview of the history of pragmatics, as well as of the circumstances of the appearance and spread of pragmatics in Hungary. On 15 May, 2012, a round table was organized by the Society of Hungarian Linguistics in Budapest which aimed to provide a possibility to demonstrate pragmatists’ results before the Hungarian linguistics community and to initiate professional research cooperation within the field of pragmatics. The second goal of this paper is to give a short introduction to the present special issue on Hungarian pragmatics research, containing articles that are the written versions of the Budapest round-table talks.

Keywords: linguistic pragmatics, history of pragmatics, formal approach to pragmatics, functional approach to pragmatics, pragmatic research.

Németh T. Enikő – Tátrai Szilárd


Investigating latent (unarticulated) constituents in Hungarian

In the present paper the nature and semantic-pragmatic role of latent, unarticulated constituents are investigated in Hungarian possessive constructions based on testing the inferential mechanism targeted on identifying the type of possessor in nine sets of grammatically varied propositions by 40 adult native speakers. The samples selected represented varied sets of conceptual frames wherein the contextual factors of propositional as well as lexically based saliency were identified. Grammatically based variation (pluralisation in the possessive construction, emphatic occurrence of the functionally genitive personal pronoun ő ‘his/her’, as well as addition of the quantifier mindig ‘always’ resulted in functional perspective shifts in interpreting the contextual role of the possessor, manifesting the interaction, interfacing of the lexical-pragmatic, semantic, and grammatical components of the language.

Keywords: latent (unarticulated) constituent, implicit argument, conceptual frame, inferential activity, underspecified, salience.

Andor József


Pragmatics and philosophy of language:

the case of intentions in communicative language use

The aim of this paper is to demonstrate some key differences of the concept of ‘intention’ in traditional, philosophically motivated pragmatics. I analyse three approaches to intention in communicative language use and conclude that the widest scope in theorising is assigned to the speech act theory of Austin. Compared to his version, Searle uses the concept of intention in a narrow sense, while in Gricean inferential pragmatics we are faced with an even more restricted use of the concept of ‘intention’.

Keywords: analytic philosophy, Austin, communicative language use, Grice, inferential pragmatics, intention, Searle, speech act theory.

Bódog Alexa


The pragmatic perspective in language history

The paper presents the potentials of involving a pragmatic perspective in the study of language history. The author first briefly introduces the background ideas of pragmatics as an approach to language study, then, by commenting on them, she discusses the theoretical and methodological questions of this understanding of pragmatics as they appear in historical linguistics. The aim of adopting the pragmatic perspective in historical linguistics – within the framework of functional cognitive linguistics – is to examine, with an emphasis on the traditional character of language use, the social, cultural and cognitive conditions of language changes, initiated by communication needs, paying attention also to the interrelations of these factors. The author describes language history not as a sequence of static states, but as a process of development of present interest. The understanding and linguistic representation of the world is treated as a medium formed by the changes of the empirical space, the changes of the linguistic representations are considered to be motivated as their purpose is to represent the world from a given perspective in linguistic interactions. Language changes, in the medium of language activities, are thus interpreted as achievements performed by people using utterances. Regarding methodological questions, the author gives special attention to the problems of mediality and reception. Finally, with the help of some research topics, the author illustrates how this pragmatic approach can be involved in the historical examination of the Hungarian language.

Keywords: historical pragmatics, pragmatic perspective, functional cognitive linguistics, development history, empirical space, cognitive and socio-cultural factors, mediality, Hungarian language.

Csontos Nóra


The basic properties of discourse markers reconsidered

– a pragmatic perspective

The aim of this paper is to outline some of the theoretical and empirical problems that have been raised by research on discourse markers. In the first part of the paper I discuss four properties of the functional category of discourse markers that are frequently referred to as DMs’ criterial features: connectivity, context-dependence, procedural meaning and multifunctionality. I argue that these properties can be best captured from a pragmatic perspective, i.e. with reference to communication as a dynamic process of choice-making, negotiation and adaptation (cf. Tátrai 2011: 45). In the second part of the paper some of the methodological principles, findings and implications of the author’s own research are outlined with a view to illustrating some of the empirical challenges posed by the basic properties of discourse markers.

Keywords: discourse markers, pragmatic perspective, pragmaticalization, connectivity, context-dependence.

Furkó Bálint Péter


Remarks on the subject and use of pragmatics

The paper reconsiders current popular definitions of pragmatics. It emphasizes the distinction between pragmalinguistics and sociopragmatics proposed by Leech (1983), and argues for a formal approach to solving problems of pragmatics, by analyzing the conditions on the appearance of vajon in Hungarian interrogatives within the theory proposed by Farkas and Bruce (2009).

Keywords: context, pragmatics, pragmalinguistics, pragmatic marker, reflective question, semantics.

Gyuris Beáta


Investigating pragmatic competence in pragmatics, linguistics, and cognitive neuroscience

The aim of this paper is to demonstrate the relation of disciplines that are responsible for the investigation of pragmatic competence. In accordance with Perkins’s (2008) perspective it is argued that pragmatic competence can be viewed as an emergent phenomenon. Our studies are based on the idea that pragmatic competence is responsible for the appropriateness of utterances in various communicative situations. We have several reasons to say that the human frontal lobe has a crucial role in organizing communicative behaviour.

Keywords: pragmatic competence, neuropragmatics, emergent perspective, relevance, pragmatic disorders.

Ivaskó Lívia


Pragmatics as a branch of communication theory

In this article, it is argued that pragmatics as the study of conveying and understanding intentions in language use has contributed greatly to the development of communication theory. Speakers’ intentions are always complex and mostly implicit in nature: they involve both individual and interpersonal goals such as asking for information, borrowing a pen, reporting, being polite or impolite, persuading or dissuading, lying or being sincere, making a good impression on a date, and so on. The negotiation and recognition of these manifold intentions require a highly sophisticated cognitive system, which is based on flexible communicative principles and strategies. The author takes a neo-Gricean view of interpreting nonconventional figurative meanings and conversational implicata in general, trying to amalgamate the Gricean rationalist approach with the Goffmanian concepts of facework and impression management. This view is suggested to account for a wide range of conversational phenomena and to be manifested in the hybrid social psychological pragmatic terms of self-implicatum and attitude-implicatum. Rhetoric and pragmatics are conceived as two neighboring disciplines that can also be fruitfully combined.

Keywords: communication theory, conventional meaning, facework, figures of speech, humor, implicature, impression management, intention, politeness, pragmatics, rhetoric.

Nemesi Attila László


Language use, grammar, and pragmatics

Starting from two empirically observable phenomena, namely the existence of non-communicative forms of language use and manners of occurrence and interpretation of implicit verbal arguments in Hungarian, the present paper argues for a definition of pragmatics which does not restrict its scope to verbal communication and assumes an intensive interaction between grammar and pragmatics.

Keywords: language use, non-communicative forms of language use, interaction between grammar and pragmatics, implicit arguments.

Németh T. Enikő


Speech acts and their empirical study

This study first summarizes the main questions that have arisen in theoretical approaches to speech acts, as well as the essential conclusions made concerning their role in pragmatics. The general goals and characteristics of empirical examinations into speech acts is then addressed. Attention is paid to the differences between intralingual and interlingual analyses, their connection to acts of politeness and interpragmatic, intercultural research. Due to her extensive analysis of common responses given to requests, apologies and compliments, the author emphasizes the simultaneously universal, yet also culture specific nature of speech acts, including the importance of extending such examinations to the field of discourse acts.

Keywords: discourse-completion test, request, refusal, politeness, speech acts.

Szili Katalin


Functional pragmatics and cognitive linguistics

Functional cognitive linguistics encompasses a variety of descriptive models united by a core set of theoretical and methodological commitments. At the same time, functional cognitive models also vary in precisely what and how they are meant to investigate. Since the late 1990’s, following research in social psychology and pragmatics, there has been a surge of interest in the social (interactional and intersubjective) basis of linguistic cognition and its implications for functional cognitive descriptions. This in turn has created a new demand for pragmatic research that is jointly focused on the cognitive and sociocultural underpinnings of language use as a social cognitive activity, highlighting their mutually supportive roles for meaning generation in context. The paper demonstrates the applicability of this kind of pragmatic perspective by a functional cognitive approach to deixis and epistemic grounding.

Keywords: pragmatic perspective, social cognitive linguistics, deixis, epistemic grounding.

Tátrai Szilárd