WHY MAKE A PRAGMATIC INTERPRETATION OF LEARNER-COMPUTER INTERACTION?
As Levinson (1983) pointed out in his brief concluding words on the applications of pragmatics, the study of human-computer interface can benefit from a perspective which allows the application of principles from the study of the pragmatics of human language. To take this perspective, it is necessary to view the computer as a participant in the dialog with the human, as some researchers have done (see Luff, Gilbert, & Frohlich, 1990, for examples and Hirst, 1991, for discussion of the use of conversational analysis in human-computer dialog). The primary interest in these discussions is in the quality of the natural language processing of the program for supporting good "conversations."
In the study of instructed SLA, the primary interest is in developing a perspective for conceptualizing informative hypotheses and designing relevant research. Because much of the relevant classroom research is conceptualized and interpreted in terms of the pragmatic functions of the participants, it is useful to explore the extent to which the pragmatics of learner-computer interaction can be understood in the same terms. The need for this perspective and a detailed example of interpretation of non-linguistic moves in human-computer interaction are explained in Chapelle (1990). Hsu, Chapelle, & Thompson (1993) explain how two different classes of CALL programs can be distinguished on the basis of the pragmatic function of the "communication" between the learner and the computer.
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