MA Linguistics / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Semantics and Pragmatics

Unit code LELA62021
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Linguistics & English Language
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

This is a course unit in the study of meaning. We explore semantics, in the truth-conditional,
model-theoretic perspective, in the tradition of work by Richard Montague, and pragmatics, in the
spirit of H. Paul Grice.
Phenomena discussed include presuppositions, adjectival modification, relative clauses,
quantificational determiners, scope ambiguities, free and bound variables, and implicatures.
The course unit draws on lecture notes, Irene Heim & Angelika Kratzer (1998)’s textbook Semantics
in Generative Grammar, and Stephen C. Levinson (1983)’s Pragmatics textbook.
 

Aims

The course unit provides students with an overview of topics central in semantics and pragmatics,
both from an empirical and a theoretical perspective.

Syllabus

PART I: Introduction
PART II: Composition Principles
PART III: Presuppositions
PART IV: Variables and Binding
Part V: Quantification
Part VI: Implicatures
Part VII: Wrap Up and Outlook

Teaching and learning methods

  • Lectures that include in-class exercises,
  • opportunities for student participations and seminar-style discussion.
  • An interactive platform provided through Blackboard
  • Optional consultation meetings

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course, students will have an understanding of central empirical phenomena
in the study of semantics and pragmatics of natural language and of their analysis.

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course, students wills have acquired a set of tools for the compositional analysis
of natural language meaning, which can then easily be extend to cover further linguistic
phenomena or serve as a backdrop for semantic research in cross-linguistic variation, processing,
or language acquisition and change.

Practical skills

By the end of this course, students wills have acquired a set of tools for the compositional analysis
of natural language meaning, which can then easily be extend to cover further linguistic
phenomena or serve as a backdrop for semantic research in cross-linguistic variation, processing,
or language acquisition and change.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Performing successful self-directed study and learning, executing tasks with appropriate time-management,
synthesizing complex issues, overcoming apparent challenges.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Oral communication
Problem solving

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 50%
Practical skills assessment 50%

Feedback methods

Weekly exercise sheets formative and summative - 50%
 
  • 1 assignment with problem sets (to be submitted for marking in the first third of the semester) - 750 words - 20%
  • 1 assignment with problem sets (to be submitted for marking midterm) 750 words - 30%
 
Take-home exam - 50%
 
Take home exam (1.5 hrs) with:
  • two data sets for analysis,
  • a step-by-step compositional interpretation,
  • a short discussion component 

Recommended reading

Irene Heim & Angelika Kratzer (1998), Semantics in Generative Grammar (Malden: Blackwell).
Stephen C. Levinson (1983), Pragmatics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press),
Barbara Partee (2011), "Formal Semantics: Origins, Issues, Early Impact,"
The Baltic International Yearbook of Cognition, Logic and Communication 6: pp. 1-52.
Manfred Krifka (2011), "Varieties of Semantic Evidence", in Claudia Maienborn, Paul H. Portner
and Klaus von Heusinger (eds.), Semantics: An International Handbook of Natural Language
Meaning (Berlin: De Gruyter), pp. 242-268.
Kai von Fintel (2004), "Would you believe it? The king of France is back! Presuppositions and
Truth-Value Intuitions," in Marga Reimer and Anne Bezuidenhout (eds.), Description and Beyond
(Oxford: Clarendon Press), pp. 269-296.
H. Paul Grice (1975), "Logic and Conversation," in Peter Cole and Jerry L. Morgan (eds.), Studies in
Syntax and Semantics: Speech Acts (New York: Academic Press), pp. 183-198.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 128

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Vera Hohaus Unit coordinator

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