Function of Pragmatics in Literary Interpretation

Pragmatics is a branch of linguistics that emerged from the viewpoint of Charles Morris (1938) regarding semiotics, which is the study of the system of signs or symbols. Morris divides semiotics into three parts, namely syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. Syntax studies the relationship between symbols and other symbols. Semantics studies the relationship between symbols and their objects. Meanwhile, pragmatics examines the relationship between symbols and their interpretation (Darma, 2014: 73; Zamzani, 2007: 15–16). Pragmatics appears as an attempt to overcome semantic impasse in interpreting the meaning of sentences.

Pragmatics is derived from the word pragma in Greek means ‘action’ ( action ) (Seung, 1982: 38). Pragmatic studies are directly related to the main function of language, namely as a means of communication. Geoffrey Leech states that the study of the use of language used in communicating in general is called general pragmatics (1993: 15).

What Leech said is in line with the views of Stephen C. Levinson (in Zamzani, 2007: 16–19) which states that pragmatics is a study of language use. Levinson also provides five points of view regarding pragmatics as follows.

First, pragmatics is seen as a study of the relationship between language and the contextualized or coded language structure. … This view shows the close relationship between syntax and pragmatics. …

Second, pragmatics is a study of aspects of meaning that are not covered or included in semantic theory. Pragmatics is seen to have a relationship with semantics. Both pragmatics and semantics study meaning or meaning. …

Third, pragmatics is the study of the relationship between language and the context that underlies the explanation of understanding or understanding of language. This view shows that there are three important aspects in pragmatic studies, namely language, context, and understanding. Understanding is related to the problem of meaning as well. …

Fourth, pragmatics is a study of the ability of language users to associate with sentences with contexts that match or match those sentences. …

Fifth, pragmatics as an independent field of science. Pragmatics has five branches of study, namely deixis, implicature, presupposition, speech acts or not language, and discourse structure.

Deixis is a pragmatic branch that examines the change in meaning of words or sentences caused by changes in context. Implicature is a branch of pragmatics that studies connotative meanings. A presupposition is something that is taken by the greeter as a basis for sharing between the participants in a conversation. Therefore, pragmatically, presuppositions can be viewed as assumptions of the greeter in making the greeter accept what the greeter states. Language action is an activity for speakers to use their language in communicating.

Based on Levinson’s view, Zamzani (2007: 20) concluded that:

Pragmatic studies are related to linguistics which intersect with syntax, and meaning that intersect with semantics. Pragmatics limits its study to the use of language that is not separated from its context. Pragmatics can be viewed as both a skill and a science. As a skill, pragmatics reveals the ability of language users that is associated with the appropriate context of use so that it is communicative. As an independent science, pragmatics includes exposure, implicatures, presuppositions, speech acts, and discourse structures.

Based on Levinson’s view, it can also be perceived and positioned that pragmatics in literature departs from the third and fourth point of view, namely “pragmatics is a study of the relationship between language and the context that underlies the explanation of understanding or understanding of language” and “pragmatics is a study of the ability of language users to relate with sentences in the context that match or match the sentence “. These third and fourth perspectives are in the field of sociopragmatic work because they include the use of language in a specific context, namely “the use of language in communication is related to non-language factors which constitute specific ‘local’ social and cultural conditions” (Zamzani, 2007: 20–21). Once again, This view shows that there are three important aspects in pragmatic studies, namely language, context, and understanding, which are related to problems of meaning. This view is in line with the hermeneutic principle of Paul Ricoeur’s interpretation of text interpretation, namely that obtaining the meaning of the text requires contexts, namely explanation (explanation ) against the world in both text comprehension ( understanding ) to the outside world as referenced in the text.

Pragmatics in Literary Interpretation

Tirto Suwondo (2016: 35) by quoting a question from John L. Austin, as well as the title of his book (1962) How to Do Things with Words “, illustrates pragmatics in literary studies. According to him, “literary pragmatics is the study of what actions are actually carried out in relation to literary works”. Starting from the word action , TK Seung stated that “in the semiotic scope, pragmatics is the study of the use of signs” (1982: 76-80). Because literary works are mediated in language, what is meant by the use of signs is signs in language communication.

In language studies, pragmatics appears as an attempt to overcome semantic impasse in interpreting the meaning of sentences. Citing Kempson (1977; in Darma, 2014: 73–74), semantic theory is considered to have limited ability to explain linguistic phenomena. Pragmatics appears as an attempt to overcome the semantic need in interpreting a utterance meaning in a sentence. Basically, semantics and pragmatics are almost the same because they relate to meaning. However, all aspects of meaning that are not covered in semantic theory are examined by pragmatics by considering the context, namely speakers, listeners, messages, settings or situations, channels, and codes.

Likewise in language studies, in literary studies the interpretation of the meaning of a text which is only carried out by means of semantic analysis (the text itself) will only produce an uncertain meaning. Therefore, Tirto Suwondo (2016: 36) by continuing Seung’s (1982: 38) opinion states that semantic interpretation will be better if it is continued with pragmatic interpretation because the meaning of the text will become more certain if it is obtained from or achieved in its use. This is because pragmatic interpretation will automatically involve the context, namely users, intentions, actions, environment, and the like. Therefore, Rudolph Carnap (in Seung, 1982: 79) concludes that pragmatics is the most concrete study and becomes the basis for all linguistics (pragmatics is the basis for all of linguistics ).

According to Suwondo (2016: 37), Morris developed his pragmatic conception by dividing the triadic sign of the semiotic model of Charles Sanders Peirce (in Seung, 1982: 76). From this triadic concept, Morris introduced three elements of significance called the three semiotic relationships, namely the sign vehicle , the designatum , and the interpreter.). From this conception Morris distinguishes three dimensions of semiosis, namely the syntactic dimension which is the formal relation of a sign to another sign, a semantic dimension which is the relation of a sign to its object, and a pragmatic dimension which is the relation of a sign to its interpreter. Therefore, Morris (in Seung, 1982: 78) defines semantics as the study of signification and interpretant behavior without significance, whereas pragmatics is defined as the study of the origin, use, and influence (effect, impression) of signs in interpreter behavior. whole.

Suwondo (2016: 38) also argues that the problem of using pragmatic signs was then resolved by John L. Austin with three classifications of speech-action theory, namely locational, illoccionary, and focusary. Lokusioner ( locutionary ) is an act of producing the word or set of words (language), ilokusioner ( illocutionary ) is an action that displays the word or set of words (language) behind the action lokusioner, and perlokusioner ( perlocutionary ) is an action aiming to achieve a certain effect in behind locary and illocutionary action. Ilocusionary action has a strength, while focusary action has an effect (compare Zamzani, 2007: 38–40; Darma, 2014: 84–88; Tarigan, 2015: 100–104).

Morris gives the notion that the use of the sign is identical to the goal (in Seung, 1982: 80), as he exemplifies the action of someone writing short stories to get money. According to Morris (in Seung, 1982: 87; Suwondo, 2016: 38), writing short stories is an act of speech that has two objectives, namely writing short stories (internal goals) and earning money (external goals). Internal goals are realized in the appearance of actions and external goals are realized withthe appearance of the action. When an act of speech is confined to an internal purpose, it is an illocutionary action. When the act of speech reaches an external goal, it is an act of missionary need (Leech, trans. Oka, 1993: 316–322).

The problem is “in the language of literary works there is no normal state of speech-action.” That is the opinion of Austin (in Seung, 1982: 91), quoted by Suwondo (2016: 39). In normal condition literary language, references are often delayed, not really encouraging effects for readers because the use of language in literature is parasitic (abnormal). However, by not taking into account normal and abnormal utterances and not distinguishing between fact and fiction, pragmatic study remains a comprehensive study because it involves broader aspects, namely the users of signs, infections, actions, environment, and effects.

Suwondo’s presentation, which is sourced from Seung’s (1982) Semiotic and Thematic in Hermeneutics , concludes that literary pragmatics is basically a strategy of meaning, namely pragmatic meaning. It is said so because:

… seen from the frame of mind and methodology, pragmatic studies focus attention on the interpretation and decoding of signs (literary texts) by involving the context of use that includes users, intentions, actions, and the cultural environment (code) that influences them. In this connection, what is meant by the users is none other than the author (the author and their intentions) and the reader (the connoisseur and their projections) because as a human fact literary works are created by the author and the act of creation is carried out with a specific purpose, one of which is so that the values ​​(ideology, ideas) have an influence (effect) on the reader ”(Suwondo, 2016: 40).

In terms of thinking, focusing attention on the interpretation of signs by involving the context of use is like hermeneutics in reading a text : it cannot avoid prejudice which is influenced by the culture of society, traditions that live from various ideas. Hermeneutics pays attention to three things as the main components in the effort of interpretation, namely text, context , then making efforts to contextualize (Faiz, 2003: 12). Therefore, a text always stands between an objective structural explanation and a hermeneutic understandingwhich gives the impression of being subjective, that is opposite each other. This dichotomy of objectivity and subjectivity by Ricoeur (in Sumaryono, 1999: 108) is resolved by means of a back and forth system : the interpreter liberates the text ( decontextualization ) with the intention of maintaining the autonomy of the text when the interpreter makes an understanding of the text (in a pragmatic perspective this is an illocutionary action. ). Then the interpreter takes a step back to the context ( recontextualization ) to see the background for the occurrence of texts and the like (in a pragmatic perspective this is a focusary action).

Methodologically, Ricoeur explains the understanding steps into three, which take place from appreciation of symbols to the level of ideas about thinking from symbols , namely: (1) symbolic steps or understanding of symbols, (2) giving meaning by symbols and careful exploration of meaning, and (3) philosophical steps, namely thinking using symbols as the starting point (Ricoeur, trans. Hery, 2003: 162–164; Sumaryono, 1999: 111; Faiz, 2003: 36) .

These three steps are closely related to the steps of understanding language , namely the semantic, reflexive, and existential or ontological steps. The semantic step is understanding at the level of pure language. This is a symbolic step or understanding of symbols that have internal purposes, namely understanding based on the symbols themselves. In a pragmatic perspective this step is an illocutionary action.

Meanwhile, both the reflexive understanding step and the existential understanding step have an external purpose and therefore constitute a focused action. The step of reflexive understanding is a higher level – approaching ontology – while the step of existential or ontological understanding is understanding at the level of the existence of meaning itself. Ricoeur emphasized that understanding is basically a mode of being or a way of being. For Ricoeur, understanding is one aspect of Dasein’s projection (the projection of a whole human being) and his openness to being . Therefore, we understand man as he becomes (in Sumaryono, 1999: 111–112).

The pragmatic point of view places literary studies oriented towards the value of the usefulness of literary works for the reader. The pragmatic point of view of literature arises because of dissatisfaction with pure structural studies that perceive and position literature as mere text. Pure structural studies forget the aspect of the reader as the receiver of meaning or who gives meaning to the text.

Pragmatically, no matter how great a literary work is if it is not understood by the reader, then the literary text is positioned as black literature which can only be understood by the author himself. Therefore, the pragmatic aspect becomes important when literary texts are perceived and positioned as beauty and benefit for the reader ( dulce et utile ) as in Horace’s concept. This point of view is similar to Edgar Allan Poe’s orientation towards literature which functions to entertain as well as teach something ( didactic heresy ) (in Wellek and Warren, 1989: 24–25). MH Abrams (1976: 14–21) by quoting the concept of literary pragmatics from Philip Sidney which is in line with Horace’s concept says that literature has a functionto teach (give teachings) and delight (give pleasure). The same thing was expressed by John Hall (1979: 131) who said that literary works should have the function of use and gratifications (useful and satisfying). Therefore, the function of literary criticism is oriented towards the reader by showing the concept of the effect of literary communication, namely docere (giving teachings), delectare (providing enjoyment), and movere (moving the reader).

According to Endraswara (2003: 116), there are three domains of pragmatic research in literature, namely:

First , involving text and its potential to enable and manipulate a product of meaning. Literary text is a phenomenon which the readers concretize. Second , in the process of reading a text, the most important thing is the mental images that are formed when composing a cohesive and consistent object. Third, through a communicative literary structure, the conditions that allow the emergence and control of the interaction between the text and the reader are examined.

Finally, what is most important in literary works is how a writer transforms his inner experiences and views of life ( weltanschauung ) and his aesthetic experiences through his works of literary value. Writers still have creative freedom in their search for art forms that are in line with their aesthetic, moral, and outlook on life. This is because the attainment of the highest aesthetic from the standpoint of Islamic prophetic pragmatics is called wisdom. As the prophetic pragmatic orientation that was said by the Prophet Muhammad. that wisdom must be achieved in literary works (al-Hujwiri through Hadi WM, 1985: 31): “A number of poems contain wisdom; Wisdom is the lost camel of the believer: when he finds it again, he has the best truth.

by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

Leave a Comment