Pragmatic Perspectives on Postcolonial Discourse: Linguistics and Literature

Christoph Schubert, University of Vechta Laurenz Volkmann, University of Jena

Thematic outline

Sociolinguistic research on global varieties of English so far has mainly concentrated on the levels of phonology, grammar, and vocabulary. In order to widen the approach and to attain a complete picture of discursive variability, “variational pragmatics” has developed in recent years (e.g. Schneider/Barron 2008). Along these lines, the research on postcolonial Englishes, as named by Schneider (2007), has likewise been complemented by “postcolonial pragmatics”, investigating context-dependent language use in the New Englishes (cf. Janney 2009 and Anchimbe/Janney 2011). Accordingly, the projected workshop intends to further develop this new subdiscipline, which is still in its infancy (cf. Schneider/Barron 2011), and to point out emerging trends as well as new directions in research.

Corresponding to the motto “Building Bridges – Inter- and Intradisciplinary Research” of ISLE-3, our aim is an integrative investigation at the interface of linguistic methodologies and literary text analysis. Our interdisciplinary workshop will deal with culture-dependent linguistic interferences in postcolonial varieties of English in ESL- (e.g. India, Nigeria, and South Africa) and ENL-areas (e.g. Canada and Australia) around the world. Hybrid communicative situations based on ethnic, cultural, and linguistic diversity will result in similarly hybrid communicative and social practices. Moreover, the internal communication system between characters in literary texts, particularly in drama, is complemented by an external communication system between text producer and recipient, which will have relevant repercussions on the pragmatic analysis. Central pragmatic paradigms to be discussed will be, for example, politeness, indirectness, humour, conversational routines and maxims as well as the variational use of speech act conventions.

The literary texts under discussion are seen as media reflecting and creating reality, so that they will provide intriguing insights into discourse phenomena that can be analysed by a joint venture of linguistics and literary studies. Since pragmatic approaches in literary analysis are quite rare (e.g. Black 2006), the workshop aims to show that fruitful collaboration between the disciplines is both possible and necessary.


Anchimbe, Eric A. and Richard W. Janney. 2011. “Postcolonial Pragmatics: An Introduction.” Journal of Pragmatics 43.6, 1451-1459.
Black, Elizabeth. 2006. Pragmatic Stylistics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP.
Janney, Richard W. 2009. “Toward a Postcolonial Pragmatics.” In: Bruce Fraser and Ken Turner, ed. Language in Life, and a Life in Language: Jacob Mey – A Festschrift. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 203-211.
Schneider, Edgar W. 2007. Postcolonial English: Varieties around the World. Cambridge: CUP.
Schneider, Klaus P. and Barron, Anne. 2011. “New Trends in Pragmatics: An Overview.” In: Joachim Frenk and Lena Steveker, ed. Anglistentag 2010 Saarbrücken: Proceedings. Trier: WVT, 379-386.
Schneider, Klaus P. and Barron, Anne, ed. 2008. Variational Pragmatics: A Focus on Regional Varieties in Pluricentric Languages. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins.

List of speakers

Carsten Albers (Cologne), Between Politeness, Irony, and Subversion: The Linguistic Representation of Social Changes in Post-Apartheid South-African Literature

Eric Anchimbe (Bayreuth), The Use of Kinship Terms in the Refusal of Offers: A Postcolonial Pragmatics Perspective

Theresa Heyd (Freiburg), Big big grammar! The metacommunicative lexicon of Nigerian Pidgin – from corpus data to literary discourse

Hector F. Kamdem (Bayreuth), Codeswitching / Codemixing and Iconicity in the Cameroonian Francophone and Anglophone Novel

Christoph Schubert (Vechta), Politeness in Postcolonial Drama: Conversational Routines and Speech Acts

Laurenz Volkmann (Jena), Said/Not Said: Discursive Strategies of Othering in J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace