ENG4118 – Relevance Theory: Language, Communication and Cognition
Schedule, syllabus and examination date
Pragmatics is the attempt to understand how we can communicate with each other. We can (and often do) communicate something different from the meaning of the words that we utter. The founding question of pragmatics is: How is this possible? How can a speaker and her addressee coordinate on a meaning going beyond the linguistic code?
This course explores the most important theories that have been proposed, and shows how they are increasingly being tested in experimental and developmental work.
The topics covered include
- the distinction between sentence and utterance meaning
- the distinction between explicit and implicit meaning
- pragmatic principles
- the development of pragmatic abilities in children
In the second half of the course we look in depth at how the theory provides insight into one area of language use: for example we might look at figurative use, including metaphor and irony; or at polysemy and lexical modulation.
After completing this course you will
- be familiar with the intellectual background of pragmatics, in particular Grice’s work on meaning and on conversation
- have extensive knowledge of modern pragmatics, in particular relevance theory's account of communication
- 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 pragmatic theory
- know how pragmatic theory is tested by experimental and developmental work
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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.
- Spring 2021, attendance is not required, but highly recommended.
- 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.
- How to apply for approved postponements.
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.
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.