Semantics and Pragmatics

Objectives and competences

• Students are introduced to classical and current theoretical achievements in the linguistic field of semantics and pragmatics;
• They are acquainted with topics like entailment, implicature and presupposition, and their impact on sentence interpretation.




This course gives an overview of classical and current theorizing about meaning and interpretation. It acquaints the students with the core semantic properties of language in general, and Slovene, in particular. We investigate how syntactic structures are assigned interpretations in a systematic way. These interpretations are enriched with inferences due to pragmatic principles that interlocutors follow in a discourse. We will focus on phenomena like implicature and presupposition that will help us define the division of labor between semantics and pragmatics.

Intended learning outcomes

Students acquire a basic overview of classical and current semantic and pragmatic theory related to:

• theories of meaning,
• compositionality and the syntax-semantics interface,
• predication
• modification,
• quantification,
• negation and logical connectors,
• scope and ambiguity,
• Gricean pragmatics and conversational implicatures,
• presuppositions.


  • Altshuler, D., Parsons, T. and R. Schwarzschild. 2019. A course in Semantics, MIT Press. Catalogue
  • Birner, Betty J. 2012. Introduction to Pragmatics. Wiley-Blackwell. Catalogue
  • Huang, Yan. 2014. Pragmatics, Oxford Textbooks in Linguistics. Catalogue E-version
  • Portner, Paul. 2005. What is meaning?, Blackwell. Catalogue
  • Toporišič, Jože. 2004. Slovenska slovnica, Založba Obzorja Maribor. Catalogue


Class attendance and active participations during lectures and tutorials, 2 homework assignments, 5 quizzes, written final examination (10/20/70).

Lecturer's references

Penka Stateva is an associate professor of Linguistics at the Faculty of Humanities and the Graduate School at the University of Nova Gorica. She is an expert in theoretical semantics and pragmatics, and experimental linguistics. A great part of her research is concerned with cross-linguistic variation involving also Slovenian among other languages.

Selected references:

STATEVA, Penka, STEPANOV, Arthur, DÉPREZ, Viviane, DUPUY, Ludivine Emma, REBOUL, Anne Colette. Cross-linguistic variation in the meaning of quantifiers : implications for pragmatic enrichment. Frontiers in psychology, May 2019, vol. 10, 18 str.

STATEVA, Penka, STEPANOV, Arthur. Two "many"-words in Slovenian : experimental evidence for pragmatic strengthening. Acta linguistica academica : an international journal of linguistics, ISSN 2559-8201, 2017, vol. 64, iss. 3, str. 435-473.

STATEVA, Penka (urednik), REBOUL, Anne Colette (urednik). Scalar implicatures, (Frontiers research topics). Lausanne: Frontiers Media, 2019.

SAUERLAND, Uli, STATEVA, Penka. Two types of vagueness. V: ÉGRÉ, Paul (ur.). Vagueness and language use, (Palgrave studies in pragmatics, language and cognition). Hampshire; New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 2011, str. 121-145.

STEPANOV, Arthur, STATEVA, Penka. Countability, agreement and the loss of the dual in Russian. Journal of linguistics, ISSN 0022-2267, Nov. 2018, vol. 54, no. 4, str. 779-821.