Pragmatically, the message must be coordinated with the non linguistic context--Non Verbal and Paralinguistic cues.
These non linguistic cues were pretty well summed up in Hall‰s discussion of "Body Language." From our standpoint, they can be divided into Non Verbal, and Paralinguistic Aspects.
Non Verbal Aspects: One important non verbal cue is eye gaze. Once, I asked this young lady why she didn‰t show up or our date, and she said, looking everywhere except at me, "I'‰m sorry, but I missed the bus."
In our culture, failing to look a person in the eyes connotes a air of insincerity. Hence, I might have read from this that she missed the bus on purpose. In addition, her body posture, which was extremely tense, and her physical proximity to me (she was crouched all of the way across the room) added to my notion that there was more to her statement than the simple, "I'm sorry..." linguistic message