General linguistics : semantics and pragmatics

lfial1560  2019-2020  Louvain-la-Neuve

General linguistics : semantics and pragmatics
Note from June 29, 2020
Although we do not yet know how long the social distancing related to the Covid-19 pandemic will last, and regardless of the changes that had to be made in the evaluation of the June 2020 session in relation to what is provided for in this learning unit description, new learnig unit evaluation methods may still be adopted by the teachers; details of these methods have been - or will be - communicated to the students by the teachers, as soon as possible.
5 credits
30.0 h
Introduction to linguistics

The prerequisite(s) for this Teaching Unit (Unité d’enseignement – UE) for the programmes/courses that offer this Teaching Unit are specified at the end of this sheet.
Main themes
The course gives an overview of the different theoretical and methodological approaches to semantics and pragmatics. Traditional approaches in lexical and sentence semantics are confronted with the more recent advances in discourse and cognitive semantics, thus opening the way to pragmatic theories.

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :


At the end of the course, the students should:

  • have developed knowledge of the explanatory principles and foundations in semantics and pragmatics,
  • have developed the ability to transfer theoretical linguistic knowledge of semantics to everyday language situations,
  • have acquired a good understanding of the different approaches in semantics and pragmatics.

The contribution of this Teaching Unit to the development and command of the skills and learning outcomes of the programme(s) can be accessed at the end of this sheet, in the section entitled “Programmes/courses offering this Teaching Unit”.
After a brief overview of semantics in linguistics, the course considers the role of semantics on the different levels of abstraction in the linguistic system: lexical semantics (word meaning: componential analysis vs. prototype theory), situation semantics (sentence meaning: reference, entailment, propositional logic), and discourse semantics (implicature, cohesion and coherence). Also, a general overview is given of cognitive semantics (conceptual metaphor theory, image schema's, mental spaces) and a number of pragmatic theories (speech act theory, relevance theory). All theoretical concepts are illustrated with concrete everyday language examples.
Teaching methods
The course contains ex catheadra lectures but it also requires the students active participation in resolving online exercices to be realised:  « Langue et Parole » (parcours « sémantique »)
training exercises will also be given in class.
Evaluation methods
Oral exam (33% exercices, 67% theoretical questions)
Other information
Complete syllabus available at DUC (printing and editing facility) - ask for LFIAL1560 syllabus
Online resources
Slides, exercises and bibliography on Moodle
Disponible sur Moodle
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Bachelor in Modern Languages and Literatures: German, Dutch and English

Bachelor in Modern Languages and Literatures : General

Minor in Linguistics