BA English Language and Spanish

Year of entry: 2020

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Course unit details:
Study of Meaning

Unit code LELA10332
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Linguistics & English Language
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

This course unit will provide an introduction to the conceptual, empirical and formal foundations of the study of meaning. We will look at how sentence meaning is composed from the meanings of the words it contains and how it relates to the situations in the world it describes. We will learn about the structure of the lexicon, lexical meaning relations, and the role of metaphor and metonymy in meaning extension. In addition, we will look at how context contributes to the resolution of lexical and structural ambiguity and the reduction of vagueness. Students will also be introduced to empirical approaches to the study of meaning.

Aims

The course unit aims to increase students’ awareness of the complexity of learning and analysing the meanings of lexical items and complex expressions, of cross- linguistic differences, and of methods of analysis in the field of semantics. It will serve as a foundation for more advanced study of both semantics and pragmatics.

Knowledge and understanding

Students will gain a detailed knowledge and understanding of the following essential semantic notions: (i) dimensions of meaning, (ii) compositionality, (iii) lexical meaning relations, (iv) ambiguity and vagueness,and (iv) the use of set theory in the study of meaning.

Intellectual skills

Students will develop intellectual skills of:
  • accuracy of analysis,
  • distinguishing between different dimensions of meaning, and
  • identifying logical relations between sentences

Practical skills

Students will develop practical skills of:
  • identifying different types of meaning in texts
  • using different sources of data,
  • providing concise and precise argumentation orally and in writing.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Students will develop transferable skills of:
  • awareness of the communicative impact of word choice and choice of expressions,
  • argumentation using empirical evidence, and
  • awareness of cross-linguistic differences.

Employability skills

Other
The ability to discuss meaning differences between individual words and between utterances is relevant to a range of professions including language teaching, speech and language therapy, law, journalism, and any other career involving written texts, spoken argumentation, or intercultural communication. The analytical and problem solving skills developed in this class are a life skill that will be useful in any job.

Assessment methods

x2 online tests 50%
Exam 50%
Weekly exercise sheet N/A (formative)

 

Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Comments on students’ solutions to seminar exercises and their contribution to the seminar discussions

Formative

Feedback during individual consultation hours

Formative

Written feedback on assignments and
instant feedback to Blackboard online quizzes

Formative and summative

 

 

Recommended reading

- James R. Hurford, Brendan Heasley & Michael B. Smith (2007), Semantics:  A Coursebook, 2nd ed.    
  (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

- Thomas E. Zimmermann & Wolfgang Sternefeld (2013), Introduction to Semantics:
   An Essential Guide to the Composition of Meaning
(Berlin: De Gruyter).

- Sebastian Löbner (2013), Understanding Semantics, 2nd ed. (London: Routledge).  

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Martina Faller Unit coordinator

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