LING3005 Semantics: Meaning in Language

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 option in the Linguistics major sequence
  • The area of knowledge for this unit is Society and Culture
  • Category B broadening unit for students
  • 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
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)
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  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available via the Booktopia Textbook Finder, which has the functionality to search by course code, course, ISBN and title, and may also be posted or available at the appropriate school's administrative offices. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.