BA French and Spanish

Year of entry: 2023

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

Course unit fact file
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.
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 Compulsory
Study of Meaning LELA10332 Pre-Requisite Compulsory

Pre-requisites may be waived with the convenor's permission, please contact your subject administartor to seek this permission if required. 


Medium of language:

For Linguistics and English Language students: English, with occasional examples from other languages

For French Studies students: English and French, with occasional examples from other languages


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.

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

Assessment methods

Exam 80%

Satisfactory completion of weekly written, group assignments for the seminars



Satisfactory completion of weekly assigned work for the lectures




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, participation 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)
Huang, Yan. 2014. Pragmatics. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (ALL students)
Levinson, Stephen C. 1983. Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (ALL students)
Senft, Gunter. 2014. Understanding Pragmatics. Abingdon: Routledge. (ALL students)
Sidnell. Jack. 2010. Conversation Analysis. An Introduction. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. (ALL students) 
Zhu, Hua. 2014. Exploring Intercultural Communication. Language in Action. Abingdon: Routledge. (ALL students)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 3
eAssessment 20
Lectures 16.5
Seminars 16.5
Independent study hours
Independent study 144

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Maj-Britt Hansen Unit coordinator

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