On the relationship between linguistic pragmatics and axiology


Marta Boniśniak (Poznań)


The aim of the present paper is to analyse a hypothetical relationship between linguistic pragmatics and axiology and prove the existence of common points of reference within these fields.


The first part of the paper presents major assumptions of the disciplines in question to prepare grounds for further discussion. For linguistic pragmatics (Levinson 1983), which studies language use in the context of various social interactions, The Speech Act Theory (Austin 1962) forms the focal point of research. Out of the three speech acts proposed by Austin, we will take a closer look at an illocutionary one. At the outset, we need to realize that communication is not merely a matter of uttering 'naked' propositions, but expressing them with a particular illocutionary force, be it explicit or implicit on its surface structure. Among many types and functions of illocutionary force, we may distinguish evaluative one, crucial to our discussion.


Axiology, a branch of philosophy, is related to the theory of values and has as its main objective the study and classification of values. Within the general theory of value, we may distinguish various types of values, e.g. aesthetic, moral, cultural and the like. As such, values may be perceived in linguistic or extralinguistic (i.e. as products and behaviours of moral subjects) reality. In the present study, we will focus on the former. We will relate to Dilthey's (1974) view of homo aestimans, a human being evaluating the world. Value may here be treated as a relational property of a cultural object that satisfies a subjective need of the subject of culture (Wąsik 2001).


The second part of the paper offers common point of reference for the discussion. It is here that Grice's (1957) analysis of meaning in terms of the communicative intention of the speaker comes into play. The author will also refer to Leech's (1983) rhetorical model of pragmatics: that is, a model which studies linguistic communication in terms of illocutionary goals and principles of 'good communicative behaviour'. Wieczorek (1999) claims that any communicative event is of an ethical nature since is takes place among moral subjects. Hence, like any other human action, it aims at the realisation of certain values. The common point of reference here may thus be the analysis of the speaker's intentions, beliefs, desires or needs expressed in evaluative utterances. The paper will discuss various exemplary utterances within the SAT framework, paying special attention to their evaluative character.


Selected references:


Aschenbrenner, K. 1971. The Concepts of Value: Foundations of Value Theory. Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing Company.


Austin, J. L. 1962. How to Do Things With Words. New York: Oxford University Press


Geis, M.L. 1998. Speech Acts and Conversational Interaction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Givón, T. 1989. Mind, Code and Context: Essays in Pragmatics. Hillsdale, New York: L. Erlbaum Associates.


Leech, G. 1983. Principles of Pragmatics. London: Longman.


Levinson, S. 1983. Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Lewis, Hunter. 1991. A Question of Values. Six Ways We Make Personal Choices That Shape Our Lives. San Francisco: HarperCollins Publishers.

Mey, J. 1993. Pragmatics. An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell.


Puzynina, J. 1992. Język wartości [Language of Values]. Warszawa: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe.


Searle, J. 1969. Speech Acts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Vendler, Z. 1974. Linguistics in Philosophy. Itaca and London: Cornell University Press.


Wąsik, Z.  2001. On the biological concept of subjective significance: A link between the semiotics of nature and the semiotics of culture. In: Sign Systems Studies 29.1, 83 - 106.


Wieczorek, U. 1999. Wartościowanie, perswazja, język [Valuation, Persuasion, Language]. Kraków: Księgarnia Akademicka.


Verschueren, J. 1999. Understanding Pragmatics. London, New York: Arnold.