Acquisitional pragmatics: Focus on foreign language learners

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Calls for research into the acquisition of pragmatic competence in a second language have been a familiar feature of the interlanguage pragmatic landscape since the 1990s. Indeed, one of the first of these many calls was made as early as 1992 by Kasper in an article focusing on pragmatic transfer. In this article, she writes “… the majority of interlanguage pragmatics studies focus on use, without much attempt to say or even imply anything about development” (1992: 204) (cf. also Kasper & Dahl 1991). This observation was then verbalized rather forcefully in a very influential publication written by Kasper and Schmidt (1996) dedicated exclusively to the acquisition of second language (L2) pragmatic competence and designed “… to profile interlanguage pragmatics as an area of inquiry in second language acquisition research …” (1996: 149). In this seminal publication, they write: Interlanguage pragmatics, the study of the development and use of strategies for linguistic action by nonnative speakers, has a peculiar status in second language research. Unlike other areas of second language study, which are primarily concerned with acquisitional patterns of interlanguage knowledge over time, the great majority of studies in ILP has not been developmental. Rather, focus is given to the ways NNSs' pragmalinguistic and sociopragmatic knowledge differs from that of native speakers (NSs) and among learners with different linguistic and cultural backgrounds. To date, ILP has thus been primarily a study of second language use rather than second language learning. (1996: 150)
Original languageEnglish
JournalIntercultural Pragmatics
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)113–127
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes