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BA Linguistics / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Pragmatics: Meaning, Context, and Interaction

Unit code LELA20291
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Linguistics & English Language
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course covers central topics in pragmatics, studying how meaning is generated by the use of language in specific contexts of communication.
Subtopics covered include conversation analysis, (im)politeness, implicature, presupposition, speech acts, and deixis. Consideration of the interaction between semantics and pragmatics will be a focal point. In addition, some consideration will be given to issues in intercultural communication and/or the ways in which pragmatic and interactional constraints may contribute to shaping the linguistic system.
While English will be the main language of study, data from other languages will be included to highlight crosslinguistic variation. (NB! If the module is taken for credit in French, that will be the main language of study in seminars and with respect to the assessment.)


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
French Language 1 FREN51011 Pre-Requisite Recommended
Study of Meaning LELA10332 Pre-Requisite Recommended


The course aims to address the question of how meaning is created and interpreted by the use of language in specific communicative contexts. More specifically:
  • The distribution of labor between the linguistic code and features of the context.
  • The typology of contextually generated meanings.
  • The specific principles that can be hypothesized to underlie different types of contextually generated meaning.
  • The ways in which the structure of verbal interaction itself can create meanings.
  • The ways in which pragmatics may drive meaning change.

Knowledge and understanding

By successfully completing this course students will be able to:
  • identify and analyze the empirical phenomena that are central to pragmatics, including recurrent patterns in verbal interaction;
  • analyze new data representing language use in context applying appropriate methodologies, as well as a precisely defined metalinguistic and metadiscursive vocabulary;
  • understand the main theoretical approaches to the different subfields of pragmatics, and the relations that obtain between those approaches;
  • reflect critically on their own communicative practice and that of others.

Intellectual skills

  • Analytical skills
  • Argumentation skills
  • Abstract thinking skills

Practical skills

  • Data collection skills
  • Data analysis skills

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Communication skills
  • Team-working skills
  • Time-management skills
  • Enhanced intercultural awareness

Employability skills

The course enhances skills related to data analysis and synthesis. It strengthens the students¿ understanding of linguistic meaning and of human interaction, and enhances intercultural awareness. It has particular benefits for students who wish to work in communication-related fields (including, but not limited to, teaching)

Assessment methods

Exam 80%
Group seminar assignments 10%
Group lecture assignments 10%


Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or summative

Oral and written feedback on exam performance


Formative and summative

Written feedback on participation-related submissions and seminar assignments

Formative and summative

Oral feedback on in-class contributions, participations-related submissions and seminar assingments

Formative and summative


Recommended reading

Bailey, Benjamin. 1997. Communication of respect in interethnic service encounters. Language in Society 26: 327-356. (LEL students ONLY)
Béal, Christine.1992. Did you have a good weekend? Or why there is no such thing as a simple question in cross-cultural encounters. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics 15(1): 23-52. (FS students ONLY)
Hansen, Maj-Britt Mosegaard. Forthcoming. De ainz à plutôt: un cycle de pragmaticalisation. In Olga Inkova, ed. Autour de la reformulation. Geneva: Droz (FS students ONLY)
Huang, Yan. 2014. Pragmatics. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (ALL students)
Levinson, Stephen C. 1983. Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (ALL students)
Schwenter, Scott A. & Richard Waltereit. 2010. Presupposition accommodation and language change. In Kristin Davidse, Lieven Vandelanotte & Hubert Cuyckens, eds. Subjectification, Intersubjectification and Grammaticalization. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 75-102. (LEL students ONLY)
Senft, Gunter. 2014. Understanding Pragmatics. Abingdon: Routledge. (ALL students)
Sidnell. Jack. 2010. Conversation Analysis. An Introduction. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. (ALL students) 
Traugott, Elizabeth Closs. 1999. The role of pragmatics in semantic change. In Jef Verschueren, ed. Pragmatics in 1998. Selected Papers from the 6th International Pragmatics Conference, vol. 2. Antwerp: International Pragmatics Association, 93-102. (ALL students)
Zhu, Hua. 2014. Exploring Intercultural Communication. Language in Action. Abingdon: Routledge. (ALL students)

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Maj-Britt Hansen Unit coordinator

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