This course offers a general introduction into fundamental questions about the relation of language to cognition and culture and the way language is studied in contemporary linguistics. We will start from concrete examples showing that language influences our conceptions and our actions. We will then show that this profound influence of language can be explained by the way linguistic expressions get meaning and are interpreted, but that, in order to do so, it is necessary to abandon traditional approaches to meaning and to develop a more dynamic conception of meaning, which holds that words get their meaning to a large extent from the context in which they are used and thus also from the culture of the language users. In this way, students get an introduction in several subfields of linguistics (with a special attention for semantics an pragmatics) and get acquainted with fundamental notions of linguistics. We will also show how these fundamental notions relate to recent ideas about the evolution, development and constitution of language and, in doing so, situate linguistics with respect to other scientific disciplines. As a result, this course will situate language and communication within a broader context and an overall view of language.