Master-level independence, research ability and writing ability. Basic understanding of language, in particular the study of meaning, or willingness to acquire this through self-guided study. This course can be used to meet the Extra Requirement of the ResMA in Linguistics; please contact the instructor for more information. ResMA students interested in taking Experimental Pragmatics in Semester 2 (Topics D) are advised to take this course first.
Pragmatics is the study of how we use linguistic expressions to communicate meaning. This course concentrates on theory development within this field. We take a hands-on approach, relying centrally on project-based learning, with weekly research and writing assignments on a given topic. At the start of this course each student will choose a linguistic example in which something notable is going on in terms of the way language is used to convey meaning. Examples could be a sarcastic remark, ambiguity, a metaphor, a white lie, implicit communication, some piece of fake news, an impolite request, or a particular use of intonation. You will then study this example, and the broader pragmatic phenomena it may instantiate, throughout the course, culminating in a quality scientific work of your own writing. The weekly research/writing assignments will be personalized for each student, depending on what they turned in previously, and will be highly focused, for instance requiring you to look at your given example from within a particular theoretical framework. Weekly classes will be spent on sharing and discussing any ideas and challenges that you encountered in your research, as well as on developing a shared theoretical background in Pragmatics.
Students will develop the ability to conduct and report about their own inquiry in Pragmatics, which entails an understanding of different ways in which meaning can be expressed across contexts and cultures, basic familiarity with the different theoretical frameworks on the market, and analytical and scientific writing abilities.
The timetables are available through My Timetable.
Mode of instruction
Weekly research/writing assignments 50%
Final presentation 20%
Final paper 30%
Resit is possible for the research/writing portion of the grade (50%+30%) as a whole, in the form of a substantial paper, preferably on the same topic as your first attempt.
Inspection and feedback
How and when an assignment review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the assignment results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the assignment results, a review will have to be organized.
The project-based approach entails that you yourself will be in part responsible for finding and reading literature relevant to your topic, with assistance from the instructor. Sometimes everyone will be asked to read the same paper for a class, in which case the reading material will be made available through Brightspace.brightspace. Besides that, here are some recommended (but not required) books for a general theoretical/historical understanding of the diverse field of Pragmatics (some available through the library, also digitally):
Clark, Billy (2022) Pragmatics: The Basics. London: Routledge. (introductory)
Thomas, Jenny (1995) Meaning in Interaction: An Introduction to Pragmatics. London: Longman. (introductory)
Birner, Betty (2013) Introduction to Pragmatics. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. (advanced)
Yan Huang (2017) Oxford Handbook of Pragmatics. (advanced; chapters from many different specialists)
Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs
For questions related to the content of the course, please contact the lecturer, you can find their contact information by clicking on their name in the sidebar.
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