chapter  5
Pragmatic Macrostructures
WithTeun A. Van Dijk
Pages 25

Pragmatics has become the third major subtheory—after syntax and semantics—of a theory of language. Its central object of study is so-called speech acts. The central idea of pragmatics is the thesis that language not only should be studied as a set of possible expressions with an interpretation but that given the social nature of language people should also study its functioning in communicative interaction. Language is a means of interaction; it is natural to assume that in most situations language utterances organized in sequences are produced by different speakers. The assumption thereby is that speech act sequences are mapped on global speech acts, by means of macro-rules. Such macrorules delete irrelevant details and generalize and construct global actions. The problem is how these operations can be specified for speech acts. The chapter briefly suggests that sequences of speech acts may also have functional roles or be inserted into global schematic categories.