Pragmatics studies language as a variable and dynamic resource for human communicative behavior. The notion of adaptability is meant to capture this perspective. As a special theme for this conference, it may be used to highlight two dimensions of language use and pragmatic research:
The dynamic interplay between structural choices and context in the everyday practice of interactional language use, conversational or otherwise, private or public, informal or institutional. Questions to be addressed include:
Are context and structure separable?
What does a language user’s ‘orientation’ to aspects of context mean?
What do such questions and their answers imply for an understanding of implicitness vs. explicitness?
How do or should the answers guide empirical pragmatic research?
The societal functioning of everyday language use in the wider context of linguistic diversity and change.
Important questions include:
How do not only cities, but also countrysides, and continents, adapt to pervasive multilingualism, both in terms of everyday usage and in terms of policies? How do policies and usage relate to each other? How do individual speakers’ repertoires interact with changing social, spatial, and temporal circumstances?
How does language manifest itself as an adaptable phenomenon in a context of changing communication technologies?
How does political rhetoric adapt itself to changing historical circumstances?
Both dimensions may be addressed at the same time:,societal multilingualism may be studied as a resource for structural choices in face-to-face interactional contexts. They may be approached developmentally, diachronically, neuro/psychologically, or even in evolutionary terms. Finally, how is the practice of linguistic pragmatics itself affected by changes in available research tools and technologies?