Formal pragmatics

Harry Bunt
Table of contents

Formal pragmatics is an emerging approach to language, which is best discussed in comparison with the more established formal semantics. Formal semantics is concerned with the study of the meanings of linguistic expressions, using formal methods. The use of formal methods in semantics represents a respectable tradition thanks to the attention which ‘meaning’ has traditionally received from philosophers, including logically oriented philosophers such as Aristotle, Frege, Wittgenstein, and Carnap, and in recent times Montague, Kamp, Barwise, and van Benthem. The impressive developments in formal logic in this century (partly due to the influence of linguistic semantics), have resulted in powerful logical instruments for the analysis and description of meaning. As a result, the philosophers’ contributions to semantics have created a strong and fruitful tradition in the use of formal methods.

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