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date: 01 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

While pragmatics is committed to viewing language as goal-driven human activity in specified interactional settings, its application to African contexts, besides offering a means of evaluating the universality of its concepts in predominantly oral settings (negative face, Gricean maxims), reveals areal properties of language use and design. Straightforward correspondence between use and specific features of design is rare apart from speech routines (e.g. greetings), but discourse/grammar interfaces generate structured fields of pragmatic inquiry (information structure, deixis). Culture-driven constraints bear on usage (e.g. taboos) and on negotiation of inferential meaning, while lexically coded metapragmatics opens a little-explored field of hermeneutical reflection indigenous to African communities (speech act vocabulary, proverbs focusing on verbal behavior, repair mechanisms). Broadening the scope of inquiry to the societal dimension of communication while reducing its verbal component to zero level, the chapter concludes with some observations on silence as a pragmatic strategy in African public discourse.

Keywords: pragmatics, information structure, deixis, language use, societal dimension, Gricean maxim

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