ENG4118 – Relevance Theory: Language, Communication and Cognition
Work in relevance theory attempts to understand and explain human communication as a facet of human cognition. This course sets out the basics of the theory, showing how it relates to:
- the ideas of the philosopher Paul Grice about speaker meaning and conversation
- modern linguistics and cognitive psychology
The topics covered include the principles of relevance; sentence and utterance meaning; and implicatures and the distinction between explicit and implicit meaning. It will be explained how the theory provides insight into types of language use: for example literal and figurative use, including metaphor and irony.
After completing this course you will
- have extensive knowledge of relevance theory's account of communication
- be familiar with the intellectual background of relevance theory, in particular Grice’s work on meaning and on conversation
- have deep insight into the distinction between encoded meaning and what is communicated
- have deep insight into the explicit/implicit distinction in communication
- have extensive experience in analysing utterances in the terms of relevance theory
- know how to apply the concepts of the theory to various types of language use such as metaphor and irony
- be able to set out and discuss arguments and evidence for relevance theory's key claims
Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.
If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.
Recommended previous knowledge
It will be useful if students have taken ENG2152 – Varieties of English Texts, ENG4152 – Varieties of English Texts, ENG2157 – Semantics and Pragmatics, ENG4157 – Semantics and Pragmatics or an equivalent introductory course on semantics/pragmatics.
The course is taught for ten weeks of the semester, with a two hour seminar per week: 20 hours in all.
- 80% attendance is required (8 out of 10 seminars).
- The written work for the portfolio exam can be submitted as a draft and will be returned to the student with comments. Students then have the opportunity to revise the work before submitting.
- Additional absences must be justified to the exam coordinator. Read more about rules concerning valid excuses and how to apply for approved absences or postponements. Please note that absence exceeding 50 % of all seminars may not be approved, regardless of any excuses.
By portfolio: Two pieces of written work of 4-6 standard pages each. A standard page consists of 2,300 characters. The papers must be submitted in Inspera. Read more about submission procedures.
The grade is based on the portfolio as a whole.
Use of sources and citation
Language of examination
The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.
Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.
Explanations and appeals
Resit an examination
Special examination arrangements
Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.