Meaning and Discourse - LL305

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
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4 15 (7.5) DR E Kapogianni







This module introduces linguistic approaches to the study of meaning and communication, emphasising the processes of decoding and inference through which interpretations are constructed. Relevant theoretical work in the fields of semantics and pragmatics is outlined, discussed and evaluated critically. Students explore intersections and differences between verbal meaning and meaning construction in both spoken and written discourse. The module also explores controversies over utterance or text meaning, connecting debates about how meanings are constructed with questions pertaining to boundaries of reasonable or warranted interpretation.


This module appears in:


Total Contact Hours: 20

Method of assessment

• Take-home Assignment 1 (1,000 words) – 40%
• Take-home Assignment 2 (1,500 words) – 60%

Indicative reading

11. Reading list (Indicative list, current at time of publication. Reading lists will be published annually)
Birner, B. (2012). Introduction to Pragmatics. Oxford: Blackwell.
Johnstone, B. (2017). Discourse Analysis. Third Edition. Oxford: Blackwell.
Saeed, J (2015). Semantics. Fourth Edition. Oxford: Blackwell.
Valenzuela, J. (2017). Meaning in English: An Introduction. Cambridge: CUP.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

Understand concepts and terminology used to account for the way in which meanings are conveyed in discourse;
Reflect on the distinction between linguistically encoded meaning (semantics) on the one hand and context-dependent and discourse-dependent interpretation (pragmatics/discourse analysis) on the other, using examples from real data;
Approach a variety of themes surrounding the nature of meaning;
Explore a number of distinct established core theoretical frameworks used to account for word meaning and lexical relations;
Demonstrate familiarity with distinctions between propositional content and illocutionary force, and theories of sentence meaning and sentence relations;
Investigate varying relationships between speaker and addressee in different kinds of speech events;

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