The development of pragmatic competence (PC) through pragmatics stylistics (PS)

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Polytechnic of Namibia, Departments of Language and Communication


The major objective of this research was to evaluate the relevance of pragmatics stylistics (PS) in the development of the pragmatic competence (PC) of students through teaching local poetry in English in a tertiary context. The paper, therefore, deals with a pragmatics stylistics model of teaching poetry interfacing the communicative language teaching (CLT) tasks so that an intriguing environment could be recreated in the ELT classroom for the students to develop their pragmatic competence. In this pragmatics stylistics model, pragmalinguistic features such as speech act verbs, deixis, modal verbs and hedging expressions were interlaced with the sociopragmatic features such as politeness and cooperativeness principles during the poetic conversation situation. Pragmatics stylistics model based interpretation of contexts and addressor and addressee relations in poetic texts were assumed to be transferable skills so that students could analyse other poems independently. The research was carried out on the basis of an experimental research design following a mixed research method. A total of 190 students (63.3%) were selected from the population of 300 students in various programs of the Department of English and Other Languages at Adama University, Ethiopia, through a systematic random sampling procedure. These students were again classified into experimental groups (95) and control groups (95). The students in the experimental group took a pragmatics stylistics module through five stylistics methods which included PS. However, the students in the comparison group took the same content with a traditional teaching method which was dominated by the lecture method. A summary of the total mean gain score out of 20 showed an interesting result. As the mean pre-test score showed, both the control and experimental groups performed almost similarly in their pragmatics stylistics pre-test which was calculated out of 20. The experimental mean score for the pre-test, which was 11.01, was a little higher than the control mean score of 10.95. Similarly, the t-test showed that the p-value of the pre-test was 0.852, which was higher than 0.05. It also showed that the t-value of the pretest was 0.187, which was less than the t-critical value of 1.960. In both cases, it meant the result was not statistically significant. Therefore, there was no significance difference between the mean pre-test scores of the two groups. The t-test results for both pre- and post-tests for the pragmatics stylistics module showed that the t-value of the pragmatics stylistics post-test was 8.293. On the other hand, the table value of t-critical was 1.960 with 188 degree of freedom and at a significance level of 0.05. Because the t-value of 8.293 exceeded the t-critical value of 1.960 for the two-tailed test at 0.05 level of significance for 188 degree of freedom, the null hypothesis was rejected. Similarly, the t-test showed that the p-value of the post-test was 0.000, which was less than 0.05. The difference was statistically significant. Therefore, it was concluded that a pragmatics stylistics method of teaching poetry does contribute to the development of the pragmatic competence of students under EFL context. It was strongly recommended that the growth of the pragmatic competence (PC) of EFL learners could be extended through indigenous literature in English using a pragmatics stylistics approach.


*Associate Prof., Department of Communication, School of Human Sciences (NUST), Windhoek, Namibia


Indigenous poetry, Pragmatics stylistics, Pragmatic competence, Pragmalinguistic factors, Speech act verbs, Deixis, Hedging expressions, Modal verbs, Addressor and addressee relations, Context, Sociopragmatic factors, Cooperative principle, Politeness principle


Zeleke Woldemriam, H. (2015). The Development of Pragmatic Competence (Pc) through Pragmatics Stylistics (Ps). NAWA Journal of Language & Communication, 9(1), 46–88.