Pragmatics Essay

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SSLA, 18,149-169. Printed in the United States of America.

DEVELOPMENTAL ISSUES IN INTERLANGUAGE PRAGMATICS

Gabriele Kasper and Richard Schmidt
University of Hawaii at Manoa

Unlike other areas of second language study, which are primarily concerned with acquisitional patterns of interlanguage knowledge over time, most studies in interlanguage pragmatics have focused on second language use rather than second language learning. The aim of this paper is to profile interlanguage pragmatics as an area of inquiry in second language acquisition research, by reviewing existing studies with a focus on learning, examining research findings in interlanguage pragmatics that shed light on some basic questions in SLA, exploring cognitive and social-psychological theories that might offer explanations of different aspects of pragmatic development, and proposing a research agenda for the study of interlanguage pragmatics with a developmental perspective that will tie it more closely to other areas of SLA.

The aim of this paper is to profile interlanguage pragmatics (ILP) as an area of inquiry in second language acquisition research. There is a need for such a profile because compared to the large body of research on nonnative speakers' use of pragmatic knowledge, few studies have examined the acquisition of pragmatic competence by adult nonnative speakers (NNSs). This dearth of research into pragmatic development is not found in studies of first language learning, where a rich literature exists on children's acquisition of pragmatic competence. That those interested in ILP have devoted little attention to developmental issues is also in marked contrast to the prominent role played by pragmatics in communicative language teaching and testing. Approaches to language instruction and assessment should be informed by theory and research on pragmatic development, but as yet ILP does not have much to offer to second language pedagogy. To strengthen the connections between...

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