Sociolinguistics and Discourse Studies
When combined and used by specific people located in time and place, words can express something more than, different from, or even the opposite of their dictionary meanings.
Pragmatics studies the mechanisms by which such meaning generation in context works. A guiding principle here is the speaker's intention, coupled with the addressee's grasping of that intention. Other factors are also important: cultural norms, situational settings, genre conventions, the presence of other parties, individual differences, and even emotions. These all enter into locally generating meanings in discourse. The generalisability of such meanings across contexts is another current topic of interest.
What we do
We study the ways in which these meanings are expressed in conventionalized patterns of language use, which is where the study of pragmatics connects with cognitive linguistics and construction grammar. We use corpus, experimental, and ethnographic methods to address these issues.
Our group has strengths in theoretical and experimental pragmatics, sociopragmatics, theories of im/politeness, and cross-cultural pragmatics and we welcome applications by prospective PhD students in all of these areas.