ENG3200 - Meaning and Language

Year of Study:3
Credit Units: 3
Duration: 45hours
Prerequisites: ENG1200 Introduction to Linguistics,
ENG2200 The Grammar and Structure of English
or with special permission from Instructor and approval by Department Head
Module Description
What does ‘meaning’ really mean? How do we know that something is true or false? How can meaning change in different contexts? How is it possible that sometimes the words we use don’t match the actual meaning of the utterance? These are the sorts of questions that linguists in the fields of semantics and pragmatics work on. In this module, we will discuss different approaches to meaning in language (semantics), and how meaning can vary in different contexts (pragmatics). These topics include: the notion of true conditions, or the conditions under which an utterance is true; ambiguity, in which an utterance can have different interpretations; sense, in which the meaning of a word can vary in different contexts; and how language is used to reference things in the outside world. Regarding pragmatics, we will discuss the social functions and purposes of using language (speech act theory), meanings that are implied by the context of conversations rather than being explicitly stated (conversational implicature), and the awareness of pragmatic meanings (pragmatic awareness) as well as semantic awareness. Through the classroom discussions, activities and readings, students will develop a deeper sense of how meaning is encoded in language, and of how language and context are used to construct meanings, enhancing their meta-linguistic and pragmatic awareness.
Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of this module, students should be able to:

  1. Discuss and write about meanings at the word, clause and discourse levels.

  2. Interpret and represent meaning in language using appropriate semantic formalisms.

  3. Discuss and write about the relationships between meaning and grammar.

  4. Discuss and write about the relationships between meaning and social context.

  5. Use e-learning platforms, such as the Moodle-based eCampus system, to participate in on-line guided class discussions, together with internet-based electronic tools for academic research.