Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Issues in Semantics and Pragmatics

UM LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DEPARTMENT Institute of Linguistics and Language Technology

DESCRIPTION This study-unit will offer students a more comprehensive and advanced look into meaning in natural language. Having differentiated sharply between semantics and pragmatics in the relevant introductory first-year study-unit (LIN1080), students will now apply their knowledge to more advanced issues concerning the analysis of linguistic meaning, for which this sharp distinction appears to be problematic, while at the same time being exposed to approaches that attempt to locate the study of meaning in the more general study of human cognition.

Study-unit Aims:

The main aim of this study-unit is to advance the knowledge of students on issues pertaining to the analysis of linguistic meaning. More specifically, students will be exposed to the limitations that truth-conditional semantics presents when it comes to the study of linguistic meaning from a cognitive perspective and will identify ways in which pragmatic theory can be utilised to address such limitations.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- identify the boundaries between truth-conditional semantics and pragmatics and develop an opinion regarding the grey areas that lie between them;
- develop an understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of the questions that surround the study of linguistic meaning and differentiate between the philosophical and psychological aspects of the task at hand;
- develop an understanding of cognitive approaches to semantics and pragmatics.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- differentiate between the philosophical account of meaning they have been exposed to and its limitations from a psychological perspective;
- appreciate experimental work relating to meaning in interaction;
- engage in more advanced research that requires a solid grounding in semantics and pragmatics.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

- Saeed, J. 2003. Semantics. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
- Huang, Y. 2007. Pragmatics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Supplementary readings:
- Cappelen, H. & Lepore, E. 2005. Insensitive Semantics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Carston, R. 2002. Thoughts and Utterances: The Pragmatics of Explicit Communication. Oxford: Blackwell.
- Chierchia, G. and McConnell-Ginet, S. 2000. Meaning and Grammar: An Introduction to Semantics. Cambridge, Ma.:MIT Press.
- Croft, W. & Cruse A.D. 2004. Cognitive Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Heim, I. & Kratzer, A. 1998. Semantics in Generative Grammar. Oxford: Blackwell.
- Horn, L. & Ward, G. The Handbook of Pragmatics. Oxford: Blackwell.
- Jackendoff, R. 2002. Foundations of Language: Brain, Meaning, Grammar, Evolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Lakoff, G. (1987) Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal About The Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Recanati, F. 2004. Literal Meaning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Recanati, F. 2010. Truth-conditional Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Sperber, D., & Wilson, D. (1986). Relevance: Communication and Cognition. Oxford: Blackwell.
- Wierzbicka, A. 1992. Semantics, Culture and Cognition: Universal Human Concepts in Culture-specific Configurations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.



Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Sept. Asst Session Weighting
Classwork SEM2 No 40%
Assignment SEM2 Yes 60%

LECTURER/S Stavros Assimakopoulos


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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2022/3. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.