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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Language Sciences

Undergraduate Course: Experimental Pragmatics (LASC10087)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course presents an overview of experimental pragmatics, which has recently emerged as an independent and productive discipline of linguistic research. Focusing on meaning in context, this approach employs experimental techniques from linguistics and psycholinguistics. It complements traditional methods of pragmatic enquiry, both by providing objective quantitative data and by enabling us to study things that are not accessible to introspection, such as the time-course of processing.
Course description In this course, we examine some of the major topics in experimental pragmatics, such as implicature, presupposition, and reference resolution. We will consider what the experimental approach can add to our understanding of these issues. In particular, we will see how different pragmatic theories give rise to empirically testable predictions, and how we can design and conduct experimental research to confirm or disconfirm these predictions. Also, we will see how this approach can be useful in distinguishing between different theories when they are all apparently descriptively adequate.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: LEL2A: Linguistic Theory and the Structure of English (LASC08017) AND LEL2D: Cross-linguistic Variation: Limits and Theories (LASC08020)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisting students should have a knowledge of the subject at intermediate level.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
The main goal of this course is to introduce and explain the motivation for the discipline of experimental pragmatics. Participants will become familiar with the methodological approach used in this field. Through engaging with the primary research literature, they will become aware of the current state of the art with respect to some of the key issues in experimental pragmatics, and will learn to what extent current pragmatic theories can depend upon experimental support.

With regard to specific intellectual skills, participants will learn to
- read and critically assess the primary experimental literature
- evaluate the strength of experimental evidence and its impact on theory
- appreciate the advantages and disadvantages of competing experimental paradigms for pragmatic research.
Reading List
Breheny, R., Katsos, N. and Williams, J. (2006). Are generalised scalar implicatures generated by default? An on-line investigation into the role of context in generating pragmatic inferences. Cognition, 100: 434-63.
Geurts, B., Katsos, N., Cummins, C., Moons, J. and Noordman, L. (2010). Scalar quantifiers: logic, acquisition, and processing. Language and Cognitive Processes, 25(1): 130-48.
Geurts, B. and Pouscoulous, N. (2009). Embedded implicatures?!? Semantics & Pragmatics, 2, article 4: 1-34.
Noveck, I. A. (2001). When children are more logical than adults: experimental investigations of scalar implicature. Cognition, 78: 165-88.
Rubio, P. (2007). Suppression in metaphor interpretation: Differences between meaning selection and meaning construction. Journal of Semantics (Special Issue on Processing Meaning), 24(4): 345-371.
Sperber, D. & Noveck, I. A. (2004). Introduction to Experimental Pragmatics. In Noveck, I. A. & Sperber, D. (eds.), Experimental Pragmatics. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 1-23.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Christopher Cummins
Tel: (0131 6)50 6858
Course secretaryMiss Samantha Bell
Tel: (0131 6)50 3602
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