Diachronic Pragmatics

Seven case studies in English illocutionary development

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The purpose of <i>Diachronic Pragmatics</i> is to exemplify historical pragmatics in its twofold sense of constituting both a subject matter and a methodology. This book demonstrates how diachronic pragmatics, with its complementary diachronic function-to-form mapping and diachronic form-to-function mapping, can be used to trace pragmatic developments within the English language. Through a set of case studies it explores the evolution of such speech acts as promises, curses, blessings, and greetings and such speech events as flyting and sounding. Collectively these &#8220;illocutionary biographies&#8221; manifest the workings of several important pragmatic processes and trends: increased epistemicity, subjectification, and discursization (a special kind of pragmaticalization). It also establishes the centrality of cultural traditions in diachronic reconstruction, examining various de-institutionalizations of extra-linguistic context and their affect on speech act performance. Taken together, the case studies presented in <i>Diachronic Pragmatics</i> highlight the complex interactions of formal, semantic, and pragmatic processes over time. Illustrating the possibilities of historical pragmatic pursuit, this book stands as an invitation to further research in a new and important discipline.

Subjects: Pragmatics; Historical linguistics; Germanic linguistics; English linguistics

  • Affiliations: 1: University of British Columbia

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