Singapore University of Social Sciences

Semantics and Pragmatics

Semantics and Pragmatics (ELG356)


ELG356 looks at the study of meaning in human languages, namely in terms of grammatical semantics and pragmatics. In grammatical semantics, students will be introduced to the approach of studying meaning by focussing on literal meaning and how patterns of meaning are organized within a language in terms of sound structure, grammatical structure and meaning structure. Another approach to the study of meaning is to ask how language allows us to communicate: how do we use linguistic expressions to communicate our understanding of the world? Students will be introduced to the speech act theory in learning about linguistic expressions and how they convey meaning in utterances and in particular contexts.

Level: 3
Credit Units: 5
Presentation Pattern: Every July


  • Introduction to Meaning.
  • Meaning in linguistics.
  • Word (Lexical) meaning.
  • Sentence meaning.
  • Sentences and truth.
  • Meaning and context.
  • Functions of language.

Learning Outcome

  • Demonstrate ways that thought, concepts and meaning are connected
  • Illustrate core concepts in the study of meaning
  • Examine the types of meaning (e.g., semantic and pragmatic meaning) that arise in naturally occurring language data
  • Critically analyse naturally occurring language
  • Formulate predicate logic translations of natural language sentences and vice versa
  • Appraise the ways in which speakers use language for particular social functions beyond the literal meaning of the expressions they use
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