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Department of Linguistics

Language and Meaning I

Course Code:
Unit value:
0.5 unit
Year of study:
Year 2

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

At the end of the course, students should have a sense of how words and sentences are associated with meaning and interpretation in context. They should be familiar with the basic concepts and issues in formal semantics, and with the ways in which linguistic structures relate to semantic interpretation and to our more general conceptual knowledge about the world.


Total of 11 weeks teaching with 3 hours classroom contact per year.

Scope and syllabus

Together with the two core courses (on phonology and syntax), this course covers the main areas of formal linguistics. The course is also available as an open option course to students in other departments who may be interested in a structured introduction to studying meaning in natural language.   

This course covers:

  1. foundational issues, including the interpretation of words and phrases, sense and reference, quantification and truth-conditions, event and model-theoretic semantics
  2. meaning in context, including information structure, pragmatics and discourse domains
  3. semantic universals and semantic typology, touching on lexical semantics, concepts and mental representations, indexicals, tense and aspect system. 

Method of assessment

One two-hour written examination (80%). One 3,500 word assignment due the first Monday after reading week, term 1 (20%).

Suggested reading

A reading list will be made available to students at the beginning of the course.