Introduction to Pragmatics (B)

Instructor: Elizabeth Coppock (
Heinrich Heine University, Summer Semester 2012
Mondays 12:30--14:00, 23.21.U1.46
Office hour: Mondays 14:30--16:00, 23.21-04.52

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to the study of pragmatics, which is concerned with aspects of meaning beyond (but intertwined with) what is logically implied, related to how language is used in context. These include (i) conversational implicatures: inferences that arise through reasoning about the speaker's adherence to conversational maxims like "Be as informative as you can", underlying the intuition that, for example, "I got a decent score on the exam" implies that the speaker did not get a great score on the exam; and (ii) presuppositions: notions that a speaker or utterance takes for granted. When one says "All of Jane's friends are coming to the party," for instance, one takes for granted that Jane has at least three friends. Phenomena such as these will lead us to consider the viewpoint that 'meaning is use'; to give the meaning of something is to give the conditions under which it can be used. Indexicals like "you", "I", "here", and "now", further support this viewpoint, as do expressives like "oops" and "ouch" as well as "damn" and other rude terms. Yet we will attempt a synthesis of the view that 'meaning is use' with the formalist approach to meaning in natural language. The course involves substantial weekly homework assignments with reading and comprehension exercises (which may be written in German or English, but the lectures and readings will be in English) as well as a final exam (which may be written in German or English).


Class policies

Information about the exam


Date Topic Readings Homework Due
2/4 Introduction SEP entry on pragmatics  
9/4 [no class]    
16/4 Implication relations Chierchia & McConnell-Ginet 1990, sec. 3 pp. 17-33*  
23/4 Logic Brochhagen Naumann and Persien 1: Implication Relations
30/4 Conversational Implicature Grice 1975*, Levinson ch. 3  
7/5 Definite Descriptions Frege 1948* [oder auf Deutsch], Russell 1905, Strawson 1950 2: Conversational Implicatures
14/5 Projection Problem Karttunen 1973*, 1974, Heim 1983, Levinson ch. 4
21/5 Deixis Fillmore lectures on Deixis*, May we come in?, Time, Levinson ch. 2 3: Presuppositions
28/5 [no class]
4/6 Indexicals Kaplan 1977
11/6 Survey results, Conventional implicatures Potts 2005, ch. 2* 4: Deixis
18/6 Expressives Kaplan video/Transcript*, Word list
25/6 Speech acts Sadock 2004*, Searle 1969, ch. 3, Austin 1962, Sadock and Zwicky 1985, Levinson ch. 5 5: Conventional implicatures (extended till 2/7)
2/7 Speech acts and politeness Searle 1975a, 1975b, Yule, Coppock 2005
9/7 Review 6: Speech acts

Model solutions

Additional resources: