I am currently studying Biblical Hebrew and Ancient Near Eastern Languages at the masters level, and I heard from one of my professors about this field of linguistics known as Pragmatics which really intrigued me, but, unfortunately, there were no classes in Pragmatics at the school I currently attend. Already having used Andrew Carnie's textbook [Syntax, a Generative Introduction] to learn syntax, I wondered if I could learn Pragmatics the same way. I chose this textbook in my attempt.
First of all, learning Pragmatics is difficult. I don't know whether it is just simply different than the way most people think about language, or whether the concepts are complex, or maybe it is a combination of the two. Nonetheless, Huang's textbook was clear and helpful. I found that if I took it slow, and made sure I understood before I moved on, Huang's textbook explained in detail what I needed to know in order to have an understanding of the field of pragmatics. The examples were especially helpful in illustrating the main concepts. After reading the examples in the book, I found myself seeing example after example of things like implicatures, presupposition, and speech acts, not only in the Hebrew Bible, but in my everyday interaction with people at work, at church, or at home. Pragmatics, and Huang's textbook imparticular, really opened up a whole new world in understanding the language of the Hebrew Bible as well as my own language.
There are also two things about this textbook that a newcomer to any field really appreciates. The first is an extensive bibliography. Whenever you enter into the study of any field, you want to know where you can get further reading. Not only does Huang go through and lay out the positions of several well known authors in the field of pragmatics on various topics [Grice, Levinson, Sperber and Wilson, Austin, Searle, Bach, etc.], he also gives you the sources from which he derived these arguments in the bibliography so you can go and read them for yourself. The second thing I really appreciated is the fact that Huang dedicates three chapters to the relationship between pragmatics and three related fields-Cognition, Semantics, and Syntax. When you study Hebrew exegesis, such an emphasis is put on semantics that it was helpful to see how the field of pragmatics relates to semantics. Also, having studied syntax, it was interesting to see how Neo-Gricean implicature could be used to help understand anaphoric reference.
All in all, this is an excellent textbook that I would recommend to anyone interested in learning pragmatics. I look forward to more reading and more study in this fascinating field!