Foreword: Current Issues in Pragmatic Variation

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César Félix-Brasdefer


The papers in this thematic volume examine current topics in pragmatic variation from an interdisciplinary perspective. Although early studies on dialectology from a pragmatic view appeared in the late 1970s (e.g. Schlieben-Lange & Weydt, 1978), the field of pragmatic variation with a focus on regional varieties was formally introduced at the 9th International Pragmatics Conference in 2005 that took place in Riva del Garda, Italy, as part of a panel organized by Klaus Schneider and Anne Barron. These scholars later (2008) published an edited volume, entitled Variational Pragmatics: A Focus on Regional Varieties in Pluricentric Languages, which comprised 10 papers on different aspects of pragmatics across varieties of Dutch, English, French, German, and Spanish. Pragmatic variation looks at the intersection of pragmatics and sociolinguistics by looking at the impact of social factors (e.g. gender, age, region) on communicative language use. Research on pragmatic variation generally adopts an integrated approach, including different theoretical frameworks (e.g. interactional sociolinguistics, variational pragmatics, discourse analysis, conversation analysis, rapport management, and computer-mediated discourse) and a variety of data collection methods (e.g. ethnographic approach, corpus linguistics, production questionnaires, role plays, and online data). And although the main focus of variational pragmatics is intra-lingual pragmatic variation (Barron & Schneider, 2009), in this volume, various dimensions of pragmatic variation in cross-cultural and intra-lingual contexts are addressed.


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