ENGL385 - English Semantics

An introductory study of meaning in language and paralanguage. General semantics, kinesics, linguistic relativity and recent developments in linguistic semantics.

We use language all the time to share our thoughts and understand others, but how do we do this? Where does language gets its meanings, and how do speakers know how to use them? How do we understand "what a speaker says", and how do we understand when a speaker actually means more than just what she says? This course introduces students to a view of meaning grounded in human cognition and social interaction, emphasizing the relations between linguistic structures and the conceptual structures employed in understanding language: among others, categorization, inferencing, analogy, (frame-)semantic memory, and social cognition (i.e. "theory of mind"). Major topics include the relation between lexical and constructional meaning, the role of metaphor in language and thought, and the complex relations between language, culture and cognition.