BA English Language and Japanese / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

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
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, intercultural communication, implicature, presupposition, speech acts, and deixis. Consideration will be given to the interaction between semantics and pragmatics, both synchronically and diachronically, and/or to 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 3 FREN51030 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
English Word and Sentence Structure LELA10301 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Study of Meaning LELA10331 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Pre-req for LELA20291

For English Language or Linguistics Credit:

Compulsory Pre-requisite: LELA10301 - English Word and Sentence Structure AND LELA10331 - Study of Meaning. Students who do not meet this pre-requisite must gain academic approval before they can be enrolled.


For French Credit:

Compulsory Pre-requisite: FREN51030 - French Language 3. Students who do not meet this pre-requisite will not be able to access the material.


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.


Week 1 Introduction to the study of pragmatics

Week 2 Conversation Analysis and Ethnomethodology

Week 3 Conversation Analysis (cont.) / (Im)politeness

Week 4 (Im)politeness (cont.)

Week 5 Cross-Cultural and Intercultural Communication

Week 6 Deixis and subjectivity

Week 7 Entailment vs presupposition

Week 8 Conversational implicature

Week 9 Speech acts

Week 10 Conventional Implicature; The Semantics/Pragmatics Interface

Week 11 Revision

Teaching and learning methods

16 ½ hours of lectures, 16 ½ hours of seminars featuring a variety of tutor-led and student-led activities, including regular practice exercises.

Lectures, supporting materials, and assignments will be made available on Blackboard

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
  • Qualitative data analysis skills

Transferable skills and personal qualities

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

Assessment methods

Assessment Task

Formative or Summative


Final Exam



Satisfactory completion of weekly written group assignments for the seminars

Formative and Summative


Satisfactory completion of weekly assigned work for the lectures

Formative and Summative




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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