LING20080 Meaning in Language

Academic Year 2023/2024

This module explores meaning inside and outside of language. The ability to 'mean' is explored as a human faculty that only interacts with language, rather than underlying it. A distinction is drawn between Lexical and Compositional semantics, and various theories of lexical semantics are examined. The features of language that need to be explained by any theory of semantics are identified. The question of how children come to master both lexical and compositional/propositional semantics will be explored. The module also explores the role of context in understanding language as it is used, focusing on the distinction between utterances and abstract entities such as sentences. This module forms part of the BA programme for Linguistics.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

Discriminate between the various levels of meaning in language
Analyse the role of context in meaning
Evaluate the various theories concerning the mental lexicon
Distinguish between Lexical and Compositional Semantics
Distinguish Implicatures, Entailments and Presuppositions in language use
Describe the various theories dealing with ordinary language usage

Indicative Module Content:

• Meaning and Literal meaning, Semiotics
• Pragmatics and Semantics, Principles and Rules, Contexts, Speaker Intention
• Theories of Pragmatics - From Ordinary Language Philosophy to Relevance
• Lexical Semantics
• Relationship Between Linguistic Expressions, Sense
• Relationship Between Linguistic Expressions and the World, Reference
• Relationship Between Linguistic Expressions and Language Users
• Lexical Storage and theories of Lexical Semantics

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours




Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
As a result of the constraints imposed by Covid-19, Lectures and tutorials will be delivered online to begin with.
It is most likely that there will be no lectures on campus.
Both lectures and tutorials involve interaction, information delivery, class based tasks and prior reading. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Essay: essay of at least 1,500 words Week 6 n/a Graded No


Examination: End of term exam, answer 2 questions out of 4 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded No


Essay: essay of at least 1,500 words Week 10 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Details on assessment performance distributed to students electronically

This reading list comprises possible readings, you do not have to read all of them!

Aitchison, J. (1994) Words in the Mind. 401.9/AIT
Asher, R. E. (ed) (1994) The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics. 410.3
Blakemore, D. (1992) Understanding Utterances. 306.44/BLA
Blakemore, D. (2002) Relevance and Linguistic Meaning. 401.41/BLA
Brown, P. and S. Levinson (1987) Politeness: Some universals in language usage. 401.9/BRO
Crystal, D. (1997) The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language. R400/CAM
Davis, S. (1991) Pragmatics: a reader. 401.41/DAV
Fromkin, V., R. Rodman & N. Hyams (2003) An Introduction to Language. 410/FRO
Geeaerts, D. (2010) Theories of Lexical Semantics.
Grundy, P. (2000) Doing Pragmatics. 306.44/GRU
Harley, T. (2001) The Psychology of Language. 401.9/HAR (SLC)
Huang, Y. (2007) Pragmatics. 401.41/HUA
Jackendoff, R. (1993) Patterns in the Mind. 401.9/JAC
Jackson, H. (1988) Words and Their Meaning. 412/JAC
Jaszczolt, K. M. (2002) Semantics and Pragmatics. 401.43/JAS
Leech, G. N. (1981) Semantics: The Study of Meaning. 412/LEE
Leech, G. N. (1983) Principles of Pragmatics. 401/LEE
Levinson, S. (1983) Pragmatics. 401/LEV
Löbner, S. (2002) Understanding Semantics. 401.3/LOB
Lyons, J. (1977) Semantics, Vols I and II. 412/LYO
Mey, J. (1993) Pragmatics: An Introduction. 401.41/MEY
Saeed, J. (1997) Semantics. 401.43/SAE
Strazny, P. (ed) (1998) The Encyclopedia of Linguistics. R410.3/STR
Wilson, R. & F. Keil (1999) The MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences. R153.03/MIT
Yule, G. (1996) Pragmatics. 401.41/YUL (SLC)
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Mon 13:00 - 13:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Wed 13:00 - 13:50
Tutorial Offering 1 Week(s) - 22, 24, 26, 30, 32 Tues 11:00 - 11:50
Tutorial Offering 2 Week(s) - 22, 24, 26, 30, 32 Tues 13:00 - 13:50
Tutorial Offering 3 Week(s) - 22, 24, 26, 30, 32 Tues 14:00 - 14:50
Tutorial Offering 4 Week(s) - 22, 24, 26, 30, 32 Tues 15:00 - 15:50