nl en



Admission requirements

Basic understanding of syntax and semantics, or willingness to acquire these through self-guided study. Some basic concepts in first-order logic, lexical and truth-conditional semantics are reviewed early on in the course. Additional reading can be made available on request.


We explore how the use of a linguistic expression in context can communicate meaning beyond its narrow semantic content. Various explanations have been proposed both for the reasons why utterances may communicate something more or something different from the sum of the meanings of their constituent parts, and the processes by which this is achieved. After introducing some basic distinctions, we focus on developments in (post-)Gricean pragmatics, especially, notions and types of implicature (conventional, generalized conversational, particularized conversational; scalar), impliciture, and explicature. We then tackle theories of speech acts and explore indirect speech acts and proposed explanations. Finally, we briefly introduce im/politeness theor(ies), which seek to provide unified frameworks addressing the issues raised by situated language use in different cultures. Theoretical concepts are explained and applied to real-world examples through bi-weekly take-home assignments.
Recommended textbooks (not required):
Thomas, Jenny (1995) Meaning in Interaction: An Introduction to Pragmatics. London: Longman. (introductory)
Birner, Betty (2013) Introduction to Pragmatics. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. (advanced)
Weekly readings will be made available on Blackboard.

Course objectives

Students will develop an understanding of different levels of meaning (compositional, truth-conditional, implicated) and the processes by which these are generated according to different theoretical frameworks.
They develop the ability to compare the suitability of these frameworks to explain different linguistic phenomena.
They practise applying these frameworks to real-life examples and become able to distinguish between these levels in new datasets.
They also acquire practical analytical skills in analyzing conversation and conversations in different cultures.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Assessment method

6 take-home assignments 30%
Mid-term exam 30%
Final exam 30%
Participation 10%


Resit is only possible for the final exam. If the grade for the midterm is too low and averaging between the midterm exam grade and final exam resit grade results in fail (less than 5.5 for these two components of the course), the midterm exam grade will be discounted (i.e., the final exam will count for 60% and that will be added to the 40% gained form the weekly assignments).

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

A detailed reading list will be provided at the start of the course and all readings will be made available as pdfs through brightspace. These should be read weekly before the class when a particular topic is discussed to help stimulate discussion, and, depending on the level of difficulty, again afterwards to consolidate understanding.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats

E-mail address Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats:

Coordinator of Studies


Students interested in taking this course are welcome to contact the lecturer for more information about the course contents and a short bibliography of suggested titles they can read in preparation for taking this course.