LING3005 Semantics: Meaning in Language

6 points

If this unit does not have an online alternative, then students who are presently unable to enter Western Australia and whose studies would be delayed by an inability to complete this unit, should contact the unit coordinator (details given on this page) to ascertain, on an individual case-by-case basis, if alternate arrangements can be made to support their study in this unit.

Not available in 2021UWA (Perth)Face to face Predominantly face-to-face. On campus attendance required to complete this unit. May have accompanying resources online.
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 option in the Linguistics major sequence
  • Level 3 elective
This unit is an introduction to important concepts in semantics, and provides the necessary basis to understand current areas of research in the discipline. Semantics is the branch of linguistics dedicated to the study of meaning in natural language (NL), and is concerned with the representation of meaning at the lexical, phrasal and sentential levels. When we use language, the meaning we convey is contributed to by a range of factors. Semantics is chiefly concerned with literal meaning, and describes the relations between words and expressions to the real world. The unit mainly concerns denotational, truth-functional theories of meaning and covers topics such as the semantics of noun phrases and verb phrases, as well as key concepts such as language and metalanguage and a range of phenomena including ambiguity, vagueness and presupposition.
Students are able to (1) demonstrate understanding of key concepts in semantic theory (e.g. language and metalanguage, sense and reference); (2) demonstrate understanding of key semantic phenomena (e.g. ambiguity, vagueness, entailment, presupposition); (3) apply methods of semantic analysis in order to describe the meaning of a range of expressions (e.g. quantifier NPs, modal expressions, definite and indefinite NPs, temporal and aspectual expressions); and (4) represent the meaning of a range of expressions by translating them into a formal language.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) tutorial participation; (2) assignments; and (3) examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Marie-Eve Ritz
Unit rules
LING2001 Grammatical Theory: the Structure of Sentences or LING2202 Grammatical Theory (Syntax)
LING3305 Semantics
Contact hours
36—lectures: 2 hours per week (over 13 weeks); tutorials: 1 hour per week (up to 12 weeks)
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.