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Researching Pragmatics

Researching Pragmatics

People usually use language to do things - to ask questions, to comment on some events, to greet someone, to express their gratitude, to request something, and so on. Pragmatics is the study of language in use, i.e. it tries to find out how speakers employ language to convey (a particular) meaning in a particular situation.
In this seminar we will examine how language can be used to serve different purposes and to convey different meanings. We will see that in order to decode the meaning of a particular utterance we must take a look at a number of aspects, such as where, when, how, by whom or to whom the utterance is pronounced. Consider, for instance, the sentence "My computer isn't working." Depending on the context, there may be different interpretations. It can merely state the fact that a computer isn't working. If you are a teacher, however, and one of your students utters this sentence, you are probably justified in taking it as an excuse to explain why s/he hasn't handed in the homework s/he was supposed to print out. If, on the other hand, you are the owner of a computer shop and one of your customers who has just spent a fortune on a new computer utters this sentence, it is almost surely meant to be a reproach and you might expect a phone call from her/his lawyer. The linguistic meaning of this sentence is constant in all cases, but its pragmatic meaning is different in the different contexts.
After introducing students to key notions and concepts of pragmatics, the focus will shift from theory to practice. We will examine how pragmatic aspects of language can be empirically investigated by testing different methods to collect data and to analyse it.
Students must have passed the GK 'Introduction to Linguistics' and be prepared to read about the theoretical background, to take part in empirical projects and to complete various other practical and theoretical tasks, which makes willingness to invest time and effort in this seminar an essential prerequisite.

Proseminar Informationen

Veranstaltungsart Proseminar Researching Pragmatics, Die englische Sprache: Struktur und Gebrauch / Phonologie/ Morphologie/ Syntax/ Semantik / Pragmatik (WP)
Veranstaltungsnummer 1032530006
Semester SS 2008 SWS 2.0
Erwartete Teilnehmer 50

Mi. 14:00 bis 16:00 c.t. wöch 02.04.2008 bis
09.07.2008 AR - AR-B 2201

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