Pragmatics – (sometimes used interchangeably with the term information structure) studies language use, in particular the relationship among syntax, semantics and the interpretation in accordance with the context of situation.
Information Structure – level of structure at which certain elements in a sentences are highlighted or backgrounded according to their prominence in the particular discourse.
A primary task in pragmatics is identifying the categories needed to talk about information structure. A set of basic concepts describing pragmatic differences in English and other languages is essential.
Categories of Information Structure – must be applicable to all languages (though how they are used may differ among languages) as the purpose of these categories is to explain how discourse is constructed in any language.
They types of syntactic constructions and the categories of information structure possible in different languages, however, since the categories of information structure are not language dependent, cannot be defined in terms of particular structures.
Yet, in all languages a major function of syntax is to encode pragmatic information and what differs from one language to another is the way in which pragmatics maps onto syntax.
Given (old) Information – content already introduced into a discourse and hence presumed to be at the forefront of the hearer’s mind.
New Information – content introduced into a discourse for the first time.
Given information is often expressed in condensed form by the second speaker.
Pieces of information that have close association with something that has been introduced in the discourse previously are taken as given.
As most kinds of discourse have implicit speakers and addressees, interactors always take first and second speaker pronouns to be given information.
Noun phrases with new information are usually more stressed and commonly expressed in more elaborate fashions.
Given information, however, are often abbreviated or reduced.