Pragmatics

Course Code :2998FLWTAA
Study domain:Linguistics and Proficiency
Academic year:2017-2018
Semester:1st semester
Contact hours:45
Credits:6
Study load (hours):168
Contract restrictions: Exam contract not possible
Language of instruction:English
Exam period:exam in the 1st semester
Lecturer(s)Frank Brisard

3. Course contents *

Pragmatics is the study of language in use. Consequently, in this course, we will examine how we can interpret the concrete utterances speakers use in a specific context to express their intentions. In order to do so, we will take as our starting point the theory of speech acts, which considers utterances, amongst other things, as a means to realize our intentions in the world. We will show that the theory of speech acts developed by John Searle is not radical enough to describe concrete utterances, because it underestimates the crucial role of the context in determining their interpretation. The essential role of context explains why most communication is indirect or implicit. Thus one can say: “It’s hot in here!”, and mean: “Open the window!” or “Bring me something to drink!”, etc. In order to explain how context enables us to understand each other even though the intended meaning of our utterances frequently does not correspond to the literal meaning of the uttered sentences, we will first describe the function of different elements of the context: the linguistic elements that are present in it, conversational and discourse structures, our general knowledge about the situation in which communication takes place, the social relations between discourse participants , their posture, etc. It will then be shown that context is not something static that is given before an utterance is produced, but a fundamental and dynamic dimension of communication that is constantly monitored by the participants in different types of (spoken and written) discourse.