Linguist 130a/230a: Introduction to semantics & pragmatics — Syllabus

Brief description

Linguistic meaning and its role in communication. Topics include ambiguity, vagueness, presupposition, intonational meaning, and Grice's theory of conversational implicature. Applications to issues in politics, the law, philosophy, advertising, and natural language processing. Those who have not taken logic, such as PHIL 150 or 151, should also enroll in 130C. Pre- or corequisite: 120, or consent of instructor. 4 units.


Attendance (5%)

Attendance will be taken daily, with one point assigned for each class attended. Class will begin on time and end on time; we are obliged to finish on time, and you are obliged to arrive on time.

In-class participation in discussions (10%)

We would like everyone to ask questions, offer ideas, etc., in class. Questions and ideas sent via email also count as participation, though we would prefer it if everyone got involved during our class meetings.

All course-related email should be sent to .

Short in-class quizzes (15%)

These will happen on a roughly weekly basis, always on Thursdays, and they will occupy the first 10 minutes of those classes. Each quiz will be 1-3 easy questions designed to make sure that you're keeping up with the material. It is not possible to make up missed quizzes.

Readings and associated assignments (50%)

Assignments will be distributed on Tuesdays and due one week later. They will often have readings associated with them. All readings will distributed electronically via the website.

All assignments should be sent to , in PDF, TXT, RTF, DOC, or DOCX. They must arrive before the start of class on the day they are due, else they are late.

Late assignments will be graded as though they were not late, but then 1% of the grade earned will be deducted for each day the assignment is late, with a maximum penality of 35%.

Midterm exam, and final exam or final project (20%)

There will be two take-home exams, one distributed on Feb 10 and due by 10:00 am, Feb 12, and the other distributed on Mar 12 and due at the end of the class's scheduled exam period (which we will not use): Mar 19, 6:30 pm. Both will mainly involve questions like those on the quizzes, but some of the questions will be more like the weekly assignments. The exams are open-book, but no consultation or collaboration with others is permitted.

Students enrolled in 230a and students taking this course for the Writing in the Major requirement will be required to submit a final project instead of taking the final exam. This will involve a number of preliminary steps that will be incorporated into optional questions on assignments 6 and 7. The final project is an option for everyone (a requirement only for the groups just mentioned).

Academic honesty

Please familiarize yourself with Stanford's honor code

We will adhere to it and follow through on its penalty guidelines.

A special note about collaboration: you are permitted to work together on the assignments (but not quizzes or exams). However, you must write up and hand in your own unique assignment, and it must list at the top all the students with whom you worked.

Students with documented disabilities

Students who may need an academic accommodation based on the impact of a disability must initiate the request with the Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC) located within the Office of Accessible Education (OAE). SDRC staff will evaluate the request with required documentation, recommend reasonable accommodations, and prepare an Accommodation Letter for faculty dated in the current quarter in which the request is being made. Students should contact the SDRC as soon as possible since timely notice is needed to coordinate accommodations. The OAE is located at 563 Salvatierra Walk (phone: 723-1066).