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LING-489 Pragmatics
Fall for 2010-2011
Pragmatics is a subfield of linguistics that studies meaning, context, and communication. One of its earliest definitions was proposed by Charles Morris, who envisioned pragmatics as one ‘angle’ of a semiotic ‘triangle’ that also included syntax and semantics. Rather than study the formal relation of signs to one another (syntax), or the relationship of signs to objects (semantics), pragmatics would study the relation of signs to their interpreters. Contemporary approaches to Pragmatics have built upon the breadth in Morris’ initial definition by analyzing speakers/hearers’ inferences about situated meanings and actions in interactive contexts. This breadth puts Pragmatics in contact with a variety of approaches to language use, including sociolinguistics and discourse analysis, as well as semantics and syntax.

The goals of the course are the following:

(1) understand core assumptions, concepts, and issues typically covered in the field of pragmatics
(2) be able to analyze presuppositions, implicatures, deixis and speech acts
(3) learn how meaning and communication are related to texts and contexts
(4) learn about the relationship between language form and meaning and how they (separately and together) are related to communicative and contextual meaning
(5) become aware of the challenge of relating the philosophical bases of pragmatics to linguistic theories, and the related challenge of assessing theories through empirical modes of inquiry

Topics include deixis/indexicals, reference/referring terms, implicature, presupposition, speech acts, (in)directness, politeness theory, text conventions and genre-based meanings (narrative, argument, description, instruction, therapy, interview), recipient design, and talk-in-interaction.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: LING 401-01
More information
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