Context (language use)


Context (language use)

Context is a notion used in the language sciences (linguistics, sociolinguistics, systemic functional linguistics, discourse analysis, pragmatics, semiotics, etc.) in two different ways, namely as

  • verbal context
  • social context

Contents

Verbal context

Verbal context refers to surrounding text or talk of an expression (word, sentence, conversational turn, speech act, etc.). The idea is that verbal context influences the way we understand the expression. Hence the norm not to cite people out of context. Since much contemporary linguistics takes texts, discourses or conversations as its object of analysis, the modern study of verbal context takes place in terms of the analysis of discourse structures and their mutual relationships, for instance the coherence relation between sentences.

Social context

Traditionally, in sociolinguistics, social contexts were defined in terms of objective social variables, such as those of class, gender or race. More recently, social contexts tend to be defined in terms of the social identity being construed and displayed in text and talk by language users.

Multidisciplinary theory

In his new multidisciplinary theory of context, Teun A. van Dijk rejects objectivist concepts of social context and shows that relevant properties of social situations can only influence language use as subjective definitions of the situation by the participants, as represented and ongoingly updated in specific mental models of language users: context models.

Influence

The influence of context parameters on language use or discourse is usually studied in terms of language variation, style or register (see Stylistics). The basic assumption here is that language users adapt the properties of their language use (such as intonation, lexical choice, syntax, and other aspects of formulation) to the current communicative situation. In this sense, language use or discourse may be called more or less 'appropriate' in a given context. It is the language or derigitave terms surrounding set paragraph, novel or article.

References

  • De Fina, A., Schiffrin, D., & Bamberg, M. (Eds.). (2006). Discourse and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Duranti, A., & Goodwin, C. (Eds.). (1992). Rethinking context. Language as an interactive phenomenon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Eckert, P., & Rickford, J. R. (2001). Style and sociolinguistic variation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Fetzer, A. (2004). Recontextualizing context. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Ghadessy, M. (Ed.). (1999). Text and context in functional linguistics. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Givón, Talmy. (2005). Context as Other Minds. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • William Labov (1972). Sociolinguistic patterns. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Leckie-Tarry, H. (1995). Language & context. A functional linguistic theory of register. London: Pinter Publishers.
  • Stalnaker, Robert Culp (1999). Context and content. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • context of use — noun discourse that surrounds a language unit and helps to determine its interpretation • Syn: ↑context, ↑linguistic context • Derivationally related forms: ↑contextual (for: ↑context) • Hypernyms: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • Context — may refer to: Context (language use), the relevant constraints of the communicative situation that influence language use, language variation, and discourse summary Archaeological context, an event in time which has been preserved in the… …   Wikipedia

  • Language assessment — or Language Testing is a field of study under the umbrella of applied linguistics. Its main focus is the assessment of first, second or other language in the school, college, or university context; assessment of language use in the workplace; and …   Wikipedia

  • language — /lang gwij/, n. 1. a body of words and the systems for their use common to a people who are of the same community or nation, the same geographical area, or the same cultural tradition: the two languages of Belgium; a Bantu language; the French… …   Universalium

  • Context change potential — In formal semantics, context change potential (CCP) is the way new information reshapes existing understanding. It is a real feature of natural language observed, modeled and predicted by researchers. As speakers use natural language, they offer… …   Wikipedia

  • language, philosophy of — Philosophical study of the nature and use of natural languages and the relations between language, language users, and the world. It encompasses the philosophical study of linguistic meaning (see semantics), the philosophical study of language… …   Universalium

  • Context-dependent memory — refers to improved recall of specific episodes or information when the context present at encoding and retrieval are the same. One particularly common example of context dependence at work occurs when an individual has lost an item (e.g. lost car …   Wikipedia

  • Language arts — is the general academic subject area dealing with developing comprehension and capacity for use of written and oral language. The five strands of the Language arts are reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing (visual literacy), as… …   Wikipedia

  • Language change — is the manner in which the phonetic, morphological, semantic, syntactic, and other features of a language are modified over time. All languages are continually changing. At any given moment the English language, for example, has a huge variety… …   Wikipedia

  • Context theory — is the theory of how environmental design and planning of new development should relate to its context. When decisions have been taken they are implemented by means of Land Use Plans, Zoning Plans and Environmental Assessments. A number of… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.