Pragmatics: A Slim Guide

ISBN : 9780198828587

Betty J. Birner
192 Pages
135 x 216 mm
Pub date
Jan 2021
Send mail

This book offers a concise but comprehensive entry-level guide to the study of meaning in context. There can be a big difference between what a speaker says and what they mean - i.e. between literal meaning and intended meaning. A speaker who says I need coffee can mean anything from 'Please buy more coffee' to 'I'm really sleepy'. How is a hearer to know? In this book, Betty Birner explores how we get from what is said to what is meant, from the perspective of both the speaker and the hearer, dealing with a range of context-dependent issues in language along the way: literal and non-literal meaning, implicature, speech acts, reference, definiteness, presupposition, and information structure. She reveals how language users can infer each other's meanings using not just what is being said but also the context and an assumption of rationality and cooperation. This slim guide summarizes the most important and foundational theories in the field of linguistic pragmatics, illustrated with plenty of real-life examples, and including a helpful glossary of key terms. Written in a lively and accessible style, the book will appeal to a wide range of readers, from undergraduate and graduate students of pragmatics to general readers interested in how we successfully communicate with one another.


1 Introduction
2 Literal vs. non-literal meaning
3 Implicature
4 Speech acts
5 Reference
6 Definiteness and anaphora
7 Presupposition
8 Information structure
9 New directions
10 Conclusion

About the author: 

Betty J. Birner is a Professor of Linguistics and Cognitive Science in the Department of English at Northern Illinois University. Her previous books include Information Status and Noncanonical Word Order in English (with Gregory Ward; Benjamins 1998), Introduction to Pragmatics (Wiley-Blackwell 2013), and Language and Meaning (Routledge 2018). Her research focuses on pragmatics and information structure.

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.