Meaning and Discourse in English

Academic year
Subject Area
Área Científica do Menor
Language of Instruction
Other Languages of Instruction
Mode of Delivery
ECTS Credits
1st Cycle Studies

Recommended Prerequisites

Not applicable.

Teaching Methods

Oral presentations, lectures, language analysis from naturally occurring instances of use, class debates and group work. Assessment according to the Rules of Assessment of the 1st cycle of studies.

Learning Outcomes

The course introduces basic tools and concepts in semantics, pragmatics and discourse to analyse meaning in English. By the end of the term the student will have developed the metalanguage that will enable her/him to
a) Identify the different contributions of semantics, pragmatics and discourse analysis to the study of meaning and meaning-making process in English;
b) Use adequate terminology to identify and analyse formal as well as functional mechanisms in the construction of linguistic meaning in English;
c) Know how to observe the dynamics involved in the construction of meaning in use and in communication in real life English-speaking contexts;
d) Distinguish the different analytical frameworks in the light of their defining approaches to meaning and language.

Work Placement(s)



The course starts with a debate on the meaning of meaning, then introduces basic concepts in semantics: sense and reference; proposition, sentence and utterance; basic principles in word and sentence semantics.  By introducing tools to practice logical-semantic and pragmatic inferences (entailment, presupposition, conversational implicature), a focus on use is introduced. By first focusing on the speaker, then on interactions between speakers in communicative events, different pragmatic and discursive aspects follow: speech acts, conversational exchange, face, politeness and relevance. The course ends with an articulation between language and context and paves the way into discourse studies.

Head Lecturer(s)

Maria Clara Bicudo de Azeredo Keating

Assessment Methods

Final evaluation
Exam: 100.0%

Continuous evaluation
Other: 25.0%
Mini Tests: 25.0%
Frequency: 50.0%


Collins COBUILD Intermediate English Grammar (2004). London: HarperCollins.
Cutting, Joan (2002). Pragmatics and Discourse: a resource book for students. London: Routledge.
Hurford,J, Heasley,B., Smith, M.B. (2007). Semantics: A Coursebook. Cambridge: CUP.
Levinson, S. (1983). Pragmatics. Cambridge: CUP.
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, 5th ed. (2009) Harlow: Pearson Longman.
Lyons, J. (1981). Language, Meaning and Context. London: Fontana.
Mey, Jacob (1998). Concise Encyclopedia of Pragmatics. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Verschueren, Jef (1999). Understanding Pragmatics. London: Arnold.