Summer 2020 - LING 480 D100

Topics in Linguistics I (3)

Discourse Pragmatics

Class Number: 3617

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    Requirements will vary according to the topic offered.



Investigation of a selected area of linguistic research. This course may be repeated once for credit if the topic is different.


In this course, we will investigate the semantic and phonological interfaces relating syntax and discourse by exploring how information structure categories such as topic, focus, contrast, and givenness are encoded in the grammars of different languages through prosody, morphology, and syntax. We will attempt to identify the discourse functions of particular prosodic realizations of referring expressions (e.g. containing different determiner and pronominal forms), syntactic constructions (e.g. topicalization, left-dislocation, and clefts), morphological particle constructions (e.g. topic, focus, modal, and evidential markers), and sentence moods (e.g. declarative and interrogative). Our ultimate goal will be to gain insight into how speakers package information at the noun-phrase level and the sentence level so as to successfully perform speech acts aimed at achieving their discourse-level (often structured) rhetorical goals. Throughout the course, we will compare different theoretical approaches and conduct small-scale corpus studies to test some of the claims and predictions made in the readings.


  • Attendance and Participation 15%
  • In-Class Assignments 20%
  • Quizzes 20%
  • Presentation(s) 20%
  • Final Project 25%
  • No Final Exam


It is strongly recommended that you see the Student Advisor regarding your degree requirements at least two semesters before you plan to graduate. Unless you meet both faculty and major/minor requirements, your graduation cannot be approved.

Students should familiarize themselves with the Department's Standards on Class Management and Student Responsibilities at
Please note that a grade of “FD” (Failed-Dishonesty) may be assigned as a penalty for academic dishonesty.
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Féry, Caroline. 2017. Intonation and Prosodic Structure. Cambridge University Press. Key Topics in Phonology. ISBN 978-1107-40038-2 (pbk)

Büring, Daniel. 2016. Intonation and Meaning. Oxford University Press. Oxford Surveys in Semantics and Pragmatics. ISBN 978-0-19-922627-6 (pbk)

Additional readings will be made available on Canvas or at Bennett Library.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.


Please note that all teaching at SFU in summer term 2020 will be conducted through remote methods. Enrollment in this course acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning ( or 778-782-3112) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.