Context derives from Latin, contextus , which means what surrounds an event or event . The context is a framework, an environment, an environment, physical or symbolic, a set of phenomena, situations and circumstances (such as time and place), not comparable to others, that surround or condition a fact.
That is, the context is that set of circumstances or situation during a communication process where the sender and receiver are located and where the message occurs. These circumstances allow, sometimes, to understand it correctly, it is what is called extra linguistic context , which can be of various types, for example, cultural, social, educational, historical, economic, psychological context, etc.
The context is very important in communication, because variations in the same language and cultural differences mean that what for some is correct, for others it may not be. So the context is one of the main areas that should be analyzed when talking with another person, listening to a song, watching a movie, or reading a book or article.
The analysis of any type of communication must take into account the social context, the linguistic context, cultural context, the context defined by the questions who, how, when, where, why also called environment .
In computer science or computer science, the context is the circumstances under which a device is being used.
Context is a term that derives from the Latin word contextus and refers to everything that surrounds , either physically or symbolically, an event. From the context, therefore, a fact can be interpreted or understood .
This environment assumes that the context can be material ( “The offender took advantage of the natural environment to hide behind the trees” ) or symbolic (the social environment, the economic environment or other).
The context is formed by a series of circumstances (such as time and physical space) that facilitate the understanding of a message. For example: a portal that publishes a title such as “Carlos rested” does not provide the data necessary for the reader to decode the message. On the other hand, the headline “After playing four games in two days, tennis player Carlos López rested and did not show up to train at the beginning of the preparation for the Davis Cup” can be interpreted without problems since it presents relevant information about the context.
The linguistic context , on the other hand, refers to those factors that are related to the stage of generating a statement and that affect its meaning and interpretation. This assumes that a message depends on the syntax , grammar and lexicon, but also the context.
The place, the possible interlocutors, the type of registration and the moment in which a linguistic act takes shape is called extralinguistic context . These circumstances have an impact on the understanding of the linguistic situation.
The context is so important in communication that it should be the first thing to analyze when reading a book, watching a movie, listening to a song or just talking to another person. Starting from the cultural differences and reaching the variations present in the same language, within the same country, it is evident that what for some is correct, for others it may not be . For example, in some cultures it is polite to eat using your hands instead of cutlery, while in others that attitude can be taken as disgusting and lack of civilization.
In linguistics and grammar, the context is the set of linguistic elements or the linguistic, social and pragmatic environment , which surrounds, that is, precedes and follows, a word or a sentence, and that conditions, modifying or not, the meaning of This or its correct interpretation.
The discipline in charge of studying the linguistic context is pragmatic . When the linguistic context is given by an immediate word within the sentence, it is spoken of microtext , and when the meaning of the text is given by a context with multiple elements, it is not immediate, it is spoken of macro text .
This term refers to putting into context a situation, a fact, or a source or document that has been received in isolation and separated from all those elements that surround it, that influence that action, and where that fact has occurred by the result of a specific situation, time and space.
Examples of communication context
Let’s look at other examples of the context of communication to make it easier to identify it in any sentence:
- Juan is passing paper notes with Ana while taking the exam in science class . We can see that the context is an exam that takes place in science class, probably referring to the schedule and the classroom itself. That is the context.
- Juana is talking from her room with her friend Maria and has her phone busy . We observe that the context is Juana’s room, space where the conversation is taking place. However, it is incomplete, because we do not know where Mary is, who receives the message.
- Manolo has stopped his car right in front of a red traffic light in front of a clothing store . This sentence has a lot of useful information to know the context, which would be a car in which Manolo goes and that is located in front of a traffic light that is located in an area where there is a clothing store.
The context, element of communication
Since we have defined the context and have seen examples of it, it is important to know that it is an element of communication, as we have commented at the beginning of this lesson.
Communication or communicative action is a process of transmission and reception of information . That is, one participates in another message or something that one has. Therefore, it can be produced among humans, animals and even machines such as computers.
The communication has a series of elements without which it would be impossible. These are:
- The context itself, as we have already commented and defined.
- The issuer , which is the person, animal or machine that issues a message to another machine, animal or person.
- Receiver , who is the actor who receives the message issued, and who can also be human, animal or inanimate.
- Message : is the information that the sender has sent to the receiver to share.
- Reference : the reference, ie, the content of the message itself.
- Channel : it is the medium used for communication, which could be the air if you talk face to face, a mobile phone, a Smartphone application, a written letter, etc.
- Code : is the language or set of signs used to convey the message. it can be the Spanish language, sign language, braille system, binary code, barking, meowing …
Context: two categories
The notion of context encompasses two broad categories:
-The material context , the one that appears as a real factor of events due to their participation in the actual consummation of the event . If we want to differentiate, for example, the fishing activity of Chile with that of Bolivia, it is necessary to know that the first country has maritime territory and the second does not.
The judicial processes are constantly nourished by the questions related to the material context (the scene of the event, what a protagonist was doing), essential to understand how the events are as a whole.
-The symbolic context , which is the one that covers the intangible aspects that surround a fact , that is, the circumstances in which that fact occurs from a deeper analysis. The cultural environment of a society, for example, will say a lot about the general behaviors that occur there.
In the example of the trial, no one can ever claim to be influenced by the values that have been instilled in him by his family or by his neighborhood, but for an analysis of any field that is thought of as ‘social’, this context will be essential.
The context in Linguistics
The pragmatic (a part of linguistics) is the science that is responsible for searching the ways in which the context is involved in the interpretation of meaning . She has formulated the notion of linguistic context , necessarily present in the analysis of any message. While the communicative situation always includes more than one person, it is necessary to analyze the factors that determine the production and interpretation of that linguistic act. It has been agreed that the linguistic context is determined by the following subtypes:
The strictly linguistic context is one that is around words, sentences or texts in their most semantic sense.
The extra-linguistic context , which is the one that begins to interpret the social conditions in which the text was produced, as well as the conditions in which the text is interpreted. It is accepted that the historical, cultural and social conditions of a given time-space will greatly influence the way people express themselves at that time and place, and it would be discordant with reality not to consider them for the analysis of the messages.
If we want to talk about written communication , the participants (reader-writer) do not necessarily share the same extra-linguistic context. Much of the magic of writing is there, because the communication that occurs in written discourse must transcend the idea of thinking about the situation you are reading, so that crossings of contexts often appear.
Finally, if we go to the circuit of oral communication , a new notion of context appears that does not refer so much to the external conditions in which the message is said, but to the very dynamics of this communicative process. This context can also be subdivided into:
The linguistic context , for example, is what allows us to replenish the meaning of the words we may not know. It points to communication in its most interpretive sense , seeking the essence of the message instead of understanding it as a mere succession of words or sentences.
-The situational context is the sum of the data accessible to the participants of the communication, which will allow them to carry out this process in a certain way. The idea of situational context requires a concrete understanding of the traditional communication questions: Who (said something)? To who? That? Where? When? It also requires, to properly understand the situation, characterize the relationship between speakers: are they treated as equals? Do they do it symmetrically or asymmetrically?
The sociocultural context , which are the conditions (political, historical, social) of the moment in which communication is produced. Many times there is no coincidence between the sociocultural context of the sender and that of the receiver, which undoubtedly has an impact on the effectiveness of the communicative process.