San Diego State University logo

Department of Linguistics and Oriental Languages



Textbook website

Course outline

Linguistics 626





The study of meaning in the larger sense

  1. Wait, I thought semantics was the study of meaning.
  2. Semantics is the study of literal meaning, meaning independent of context, focusing on the path from syntax to literal meaning
  3. Pragmatics is the study of how literal meaning, context, and linguistic form determine conveyed meaning
  4. Most of what's fun in the study of meaning is pragmatics
  5. Most of how language can be used to communicate is studied in pragmatics

Topics covered include

  • Implicature
  • Speech Acts
  • Presupposition
  • Contextual sensitivity of meaning (a special case is deixis)
  • Discourse versus Conversation

The course will use one required text Pragmatics (Stephen C. Levinson) but will also make heavy use of a reading packet. Levinson Textbook website, Amazon page

There is also a recommended text, Introduction to Pragmatics (Betty J. Birner). Birner Textbook webpage

In addition there will be a packet of readings, available through Blackboard.


Full Course outline

Prerequisites and Grading

No course pre-requisites. In particular for this version of the course, the Ling 525 prereq listed in the catalog will be waived.

Grading will be based on exercises, student presentations, a final paper outline, and a final paper.

Place and Time

Mon 1600-1840 SH-221

Office Hours

Tu Th 0930-1030 1130-1230 SHW 238

Contact Info

Mailing address:
gawron at mail dot sdsu dot edu
Department of Linguistics and Oriental Languages
San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182-7727
Telephone: (619) 594-0252
Office location: SHW, room 243
Office hours: TuTh 1:00-2:30