Neither my webmaster nor I can find the blogs I claim to have written about the work my friends and I have been doing on the language of the law (Forensic Linguistics) and the language of medicine, so I shall leave them for the moment and consider our current preoccupation, which is pragmatics.

We made a wise decision to work through a workbook on the subject.* Many of insights we are familiar with (e.g. speech act theory) but we have no systematic knowledge of the area.

The first distinction we had to make was that between semantics and pragmatics. Briefly, semantics deals with the meanings encoded in the language system itself; pragmatics describes the use of language in making meanings in the world. Continue reading


I am disturbed to find that blogs that I thought I had put up in the last few months seem to have disappeared. I shall have to consult my webmaster!

My friends and I have been pursuing our linguistic interests by working through two books:

An Introduction to Forensic Linguistics: Malcolm Coulthard and Alison Johnson

Exploring Health Communication: Kevin Harvey and Nelya Koteyko

I thought I had reported some of the more interesting things we had learned on my blog, but apparently not.

It has been fascinating to see how linguistic insights can sharpen the work of two of the oldest professions – law and medicine. We have now moved on to the purely theoretical area of Pragmatics. We have taken the precaution of starting on a workbook, which has led us immediately to the most basic part of language study – and the oldest – which is Semantics.

I’ll delay sharing our insights until I make sure they are being received!

Our new book is: Pragmatics: Jean Stilwell Peccei.