English 905 Seminar : Topics in Pragmatics

Syllabus for Fall 2013

Mondays, 4:00 - 6:30 p.m. in 6110 Helen C. White Hall

bullet Instructor bullet Assignments
bullet Required Materials bullet Assessment and Grading
bullet Aims of the Seminar bullet Seminar Outline
bullet Readings bullet Instructor's Home Page

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Portrait of Professor Young Professor Richard F Young
7163 Helen C White Hall
Office hours: Wednesdays, 1:00 - 3:00 p.m., or by appointment

E-mail: rfyoung at wisc dot edu
Home Page: www.wisc.edu/english/rfyoung

Class E-mail List

Use the class e-mail list as a public bulletin board for discussions about the class.  Send your messages to english905-1-f13 at lists dot wisc dot edu.  In order for you to receive messages from the e-mail list, your e-mail address must be in the Registrar's database.  If you do not receive messages from the list, you should activate a NetID account (wisc.edu e-mail) or register an existing e-mail account.

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Required Materials

bullet Archer, D., Aijmer, K., & Wichmann, A. (2012). Pragmatics: An advanced resource book for students. Abingdon, UK & New York: Routledge. ISBN: 978-0-415-49787-9. This book is available for purchase at the University Bookstore. Useful online resources are available for this title here.
bullet Thirty-four readings are available for download from My WebSpace. These are the full versions of the extracts included in the textbook.


These books are available for use at the Memorial Library Reference area, 262 Memorial Library
bullet Cummings, L. (Ed.). (2010). The pragmatics encyclopedia. Abingdon, UK: Routledge. Call number: P99.4 P72 P7395 2013
bullet Horn, L. R., & Ward, G. L. (Eds.). (2004). The handbook of pragmatics. Malden, MA: Blackwell. Call number: P99.4 P72 H35 2004
bullet Mey, J. (Ed.). (1998). Concise encyclopedia of pragmatics (1st ed.). Amsterdam: Elsevier. Call number: P99.4 P72 C62 1998

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Aims of the Seminar

This is a graduate seminar for students in the English language and linguistics program, students pursuing the Ph.D. in second language acquisition, and interested doctoral students from other departments. The topic of the seminar is pragmatics.

Pragmatics is the study of the relationship between the meaning of an utterance and the context in which the utterance is produced. We normally think of people using language to produce utterances, though the act of production involves not only words and grammar but also vocal prosody, gesture, gaze, and bodily stance. The context of production is also much grander than the time and place of utterance and it includes the physical, spatial, temporal, social, interactional, institutional, political, and historical circumstances in which a person produces an utterance. By ‘utterance’ and ‘context’ we name systems of interconnection among very many features, and the study of the relationship between utterance and context is not to be undertaken lightly. Nonetheless it is a study that for centuries has been of great interest to philosophers, linguists, semioticians, and psychologists. And even if you don’t want to focus on pragmatics as a field of academic study, it’s worth considering a few questions that we will ask and try to answer in this seminar:

That last question was asked by a philosopher. Asking and answering questions like these is not just what we should do as students and scholars; it is also a matter of practical communication—especially communication among people from different social and cultural backgrounds. If you decide to take this seminar, I hope it will not only be one more step on the road to an academic qualification, but it should also be a means to make us all better communicators.

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This is a seminar. One definition of a seminar is "a small group of advanced students in a college or graduate school engaged in original research or intensive study under the guidance of a professor who meets regularly with them to discuss their reports and findings" (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition). The word’s meaning is historically derived from a place where seeds are planted. And this is the spirit in which I plan to lead this seminar.

Facilitating seminar discussions

For 12 weeks, we will study what linguists, philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, and historians have thought and written about pragmatics. In those 12 weeks, all of us should the relevant Section A in the textbook as well as the relevant extracts in Section B. Each week, two or more people will be responsible for facilitating our discussion. In preparing to facilitate the discussion, facilitators should...


Read all the assigned readings in their full form, not just the extracts in the textbook.


Read additional materials in the online textbook resources and from the two recommended reference books.


Prepare an oral presentation that summarizes and critiques for the rest of us the theoretical questions involved. If an empirical research study is involved, you should also describe and critique the methods used in the study and its results.


Prepare examples of data that exemplify the topics of the readings.


Prepare discussions points that will elicit commentary on the readings from all seminar participants.


Write up your presentation as a seminar paper and hand it to me for comments and grading. Your paper should be no longer than five pages (not including references and data).

Conducting and reporting a research project

Each of you will conduct an original research project. Your project should be either (a) an in-depth data-based analysis of one or more aspects of pragmatics or (b) a theoretical paper in which you investigate in depth one or more topics introduced in the seminar. You should report your research in a research paper, which should be 25-35-pages long, not including references or transcripts. Please prepare a written proposal for your research project in which you describe clearly what you wish to study, why you find it interesting, and how you propose to go about studying it. Your written proposal should be no longer than 5 pages, not including a list of ten references to work that you plan to read for your research. Written proposals for papers are due on October 21. That same day, you should make an oral presentation of your proposal to us all. Your presentation should last no longer than 10 minutes and can be followed by 2 minutes of discussion. Please be prepared to modify your research plan on the basis of reactions from me and your colleagues. You should give a short report on your completed or in-progress research at one of our two final meetings in December. Your final written research papers are due by Monday, December 16.

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Assessment and Grading

The written seminar paper is worth 25% of the final grade. I encourage you to write this paper as a group assignment. If you facilitate more than one seminar discussion, your seminar grade will be the highest grade you receive from the seminars you have lead. The research paper, which should normally be an individual assignment, is worth 75%.

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Seminar Outline





September 9

Introduction: What is pragmatics?



September 16

A1: The origins of pragmatics

Nerlich (2009)
Leech (1983)

Daniel, Yichen, & David

September 23

A2: Research methods in pragmatics

Kasper (2008)
Van der Henst & Sperber (2004)
Kohnen (2009)

Yuhan & Youyong

September 30

A3: The semantic-pragmatic interface

Jaszczolt (2010)
Stalnaker (1974)
Enfield (2003)

Daniel, Haruka, & Tim

October 7

A4: Speech acts: Doing things with words

Manes & Wolfson (1981)
Jucker (2009)
Eisenstein & Bodman (1993)

Akiko, Emma, & Shauna

October 14

A5: Implicature

Grice (1989)
Leech (1981)
Wilson (2010)

Sun Chen, Yuhan, & Sang Yuan

October 21

Presentation of research proposals

October 28

A6: Pragmatics and the structure of discourse

Tsui (1994)
Stubbs (1983)
McCarthy (2003)

Shauna & Emma

November 4

A7: Pragmatic markers

Diani (2004)
Gilquin (2008)
Rühlemann (2007)

Sun Chen & Sang Yuan

November 11

A8: Pragmatics, facework, and (im)politeness

O'Driscoll (2007)
Watts (2003)
Culpeper, Bousfield, & Wichmann (2003)

Yichen & David

November 18

A9: Pragmatics, prosody, and gesture

Mennen (2007)
Wichmann (2004)
Gussenhoven (2004)


November 25

A10: Cross-cultural pragmatics

Wierzbicka (2003)
Thomas (1983)
Argyle (1988)

Akiko & Youyong

December 2

A12: Pragmatics and power

van Dijk (2006)
Harris (1995)
Haworth (2006)

Haruka & David

December 9

Presentation of research projects

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bullet Argyle, M. (1988). Bodily communication (2nd ed.). Madison, CT: International Universities Press. Chapter 4 ‘Cultural differences in bodily communication.’
bullet Culpeper, J., Bousfield, D., & Wichmann, A. (2003). Impoliteness revisited: With special reference to dynamic and prosodic aspects. Journal of Pragmatics, 35(10-11), 1545-1579. doi: 10.1016/S0378-2166(02)00118-2
bullet Diani, G. (2004). The discourse functions of I don’t know in English conversation. In K. Aijmer & A.-B. Stenström (Eds.), Discourse patterns in spoken and written corpora (pp. 157-172). Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
bullet Eisenstein, M., & Bodman, J. W. (1993). Expressing gratitude in American English. In G. Kasper & S. Blum-Kulka (Eds.), Interlanguage pragmatics (pp. 64-81). New York: Oxford University Press.
bullet Enfield, N. J. (2003). The definition of WHAT-d’you-call-it: Semantics and pragmatics of recognitional deixis. Journal of Pragmatics, 35(1), 101-117. doi: 10.1016/S0378-2166(02)00066-8
bullet Gilquin, G. (2008). Hesitation markers among EFL learners: Pragmatic deficiency or difference? In J. Romero-Trillo (Ed.), Pragmatics and corpus linguistics: A mutualistic entente (pp. 119-149). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
bullet Grice, H. P. (1989). Logic and conversation. In H. P. Grice (Ed.), Studies in the way of words (pp. 22-57). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
bullet Gussenhoven, C. (2004). The phonology of tone and intonation. Cambridge, UK & New York: Cambridge University Press. Chapter 5 ‘Pragmalinguistics: Three biological codes.’
bullet Harris, S. (1995). Pragmatics and power. Journal of Pragmatics, 23(2), 117-135. doi: 10.1016/0378-2166(94)00008-3
bullet Haworth, K. (2006). The dynamics of power and resistance in police interview discourse. Discourse & Society, 17(6), 739–759. doi: 10.1177/0957926506068430
bullet Jaszczolt, K. M. (2010). Semantics-pragmatics interface. In L. Cummings (Ed.), The pragmatics encyclopedia (pp. 428-432). Abingdon, UK & New York: Routledge.
bullet Jucker, A. H. (2009). Speech act research between armchair, field and laboratory: The case of compliments. Journal of Pragmatics, 41(8), 1611-1635. doi: 10.1016/j.pragma.2009.02.004
bullet Kasper, G. (2008). Data collection in pragmatics research. In H. Spencer-Oatey (Ed.), Culturally speaking: Culture, communication and politeness theory (2nd ed., pp. 279-303). London: Continuum.
bullet Kohnen, T. (2009). Historical corpus pragmatics: Focus on speech acts and texts. In A. H. Jucker, D. Schreier & M. Hundt (Eds.), Corpora: Pragmatics and discourse. Papers from the 29th International Conference on English Language Research on Computerized Corpora (ICAME 29), Ascona, Switzerland, 14-18 May 2008 (pp. 13-36). Amsterdam & New York: Rodopi.
bullet Leech, G. N. (1981). Semantics: The study of meaning (2nd ed.). Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin. Chapter 16 ‘Semantics and Pragmatics.’
bullet Leech, G. N. (1983). Principles of pragmatics. London & New York: Longman. Chapter 1, ‘Introduction.’
bullet Manes, J., & Wolfson, N. (1981). The compliment formula. In F. Coulmas (Ed.), Conversational routine (pp. 115-132). The Hague: Mouton.
bullet McCarthy, M. (2003). Talking back: “Small” interactional response tokens in everyday conversation. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 36(1), 33-63. doi: 10.1207/S15327973RLSI3601_3
bullet Mennen, I. (2007). Phonological and phonetic influences in non-native intonation. In J. Trouvain & U. Gut (Eds.), Non-native prosody: Phonetic description and teaching practice (pp. 53-76). Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter.
bullet Nerlich, B. (2010). History of pragmatics. In L. Cummings (Ed.), The pragmatics encyclopedia (pp. 192-195). Abingdon, UK & New York: Routledge.
bullet O’Driscoll, J. (2007). Brown and Levinson’s face: How it can—and can’t—help us to understand interaction across cultures. Intercultural Pragmatics, 4(4), 463-492. doi: 10.1515/IP.2007.024
bullet Rühlemann, C. (2007). Conversation in context: A corpus-driven approach. London: Continuum. Chapter 6 ‘Discourse Management Phenomena.’
bullet Stalnaker, R. (1974). Pragmatic presuppositions. In M. K. Munitz & P. K. Unger (Eds.), Semantics and philosophy (pp. 197-214). New York: New York University Press.
bullet Stubbs, M. (1983). Discourse analysis: The sociolinguistic analysis of natural language. Oxford, UK: Blackwell. Chapter 9 ‘On the Surface of Discourse: Prefaces and Alignments.’
bullet Thomas, J. (1983). Cross-cultural pragmatic failure. Applied Linguistics, 4(2), 91-112. doi: 10.1093/applin/4.2.91
bullet Tsui, A. B. M. (1994). English conversation. Oxford, UK & New York: Oxford University Press. Chapter 2, ‘The Structure of Conversation.’
bullet Van der Henst, J.-B., & Sperber, D. (2004). Testing the cognitive and communicative principles of relevance. In I. A. Noveck & D. Sperber (Eds.), Experimental pragmatics (pp. 141-171). Houndmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
bullet van Dijk, T. A. (2006). Discourse, context and cognition. Discourse Studies, 8(1), 159-177. doi: 10.1177/1461445606059565
bullet Watts, R. J. (2003). Politeness. Cambridge, UK & New York: Cambridge University Press. Chapter 10 ‘Politic Behaviour and Politeness Within a Theory of Social Practice.’
bullet Wichmann, A. (2004). The intonation of please-requests: A corpus-based study. Journal of Pragmatics, 36(9), 1521-1549. doi: 10.1016/j.pragma.2004.03.003
bullet Wierzbicka, A. (2003). Cross-cultural pragmatics: The semantics of human interaction (2nd ed.). Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter. Chapter 3 ‘Cross-cultural pragmatics and different cultural values.’
bullet Wilson, D. (2010). Relevance theory. In L. Cummings (Ed.), The pragmatics encyclopedia (pp. 393-399). Abingdon, UK & New York: Routledge.

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This page was last updated on Monday, October 14, 2013 .