Academic year
2021/2022 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
EM7027 (AF:358046 AR:189720)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Master's Degree Programme (DM270)
Educational sector code
4th Term
Course year
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This course is included among the Interdisciplinary Activities (Related or Additional Studies) of the curriculum Innovation and Marketing, in the framework of the Master’s Degree Programme in Marketing and Communication. With respect to the common objectives of the degree programme and the specific curriculum, the course contributes to the study of the aspects concerning the management of communication policies and marketing strategies.
The aims of the course are the following: acquisition of knowledge concerning the patterns and mechanisms of human communication, their potentialities, and their limits; development of the ability to recognize and analyze a wide range of linguistic and communicative phenomena, with special attention to the phenomena of ambiguity and polysemy, context dependency, performative infelicities, and to the various forms of implicit communication; development of practical abilities in applying these tools of discourse analysis to all areas of communication, with a privileged focus on the strategies used in the language of advertising and propaganda, on the one hand, and on the nuances that affect ordinary conversation and influence social relationships.
Thus, the course contributes to the achievement of the educational purposes of the degree programme and the specific curriculum both concerning the acquisition of knowledge and concerning the development of skills and competences. Indeed, the course makes sophisticated theoretical tools available to students by also teaching their correct practical application. To this effect, most of the concepts and theories that are proposed during the lectures are illustrated not only by means of the gold standard examples but also by considering real-life cases borrowed from the examination of various sorts of texts that have independent communicative functions. In particular, commercials, advertisements and pieces of propaganda speech are analyzed for this purpose. Thus, the course makes use of multimedia resources in order to accustom students to recognize pragmatic phenomena in the different media of social communication. Thanks to this approach, the course aims to stimulate students to assume a critical attitude towards language, so as to develop their ability to work with greater awareness and efficacy in all roles that are in charge of communication and marketing, thereby fulfilling the needs of the job profiles that this study program aims to build.
The subject matter of this course is the pragmatics of human communication considered from the point of view of the philosophy of language. Thanks to class attendance and individual study, students will acquire the following knowledge, skills, and competences:
1) Knowledge and understanding:
- Learning the basic technical vocabulary that is currently used in the philosophy of language and the pragmatics of linguistic communication;
- Correctly interpreting thesis statements and arguments concerning philosophical-linguistic subjects and especially scientific texts belonging to the field of pragmatics;
- Being acquainted with the main topics that are currently discussed in pragmatics: knowing what the context is and how it influences communication; what speech acts are and how they can be classified; what presuppositions and conversational implicatures are; what politeness is and what role it plays in communication, etc.;
- Being acquainted with the main theories that scholars have proposed to account for pragmatics phenomena: knowing how indexicals and demonstratives work; understanding the concept of performative and the concept of illocutionary force; knowing the theory of pragmatic presupposition and Grice’s explanation of implicatures; knowing the maxims of politeness and the distinction between positive and negative face, etc.;
- Understanding the importance of pragmatic phenomena for social communication and marketing strategies.
2) Ability to apply knowledge and understanding:
- Ability to use the technical vocabulary acquired to correctly describe linguistic phenomena in general and pragmatic phenomena in particular;
- Ability to recognize and analyze the main pragmatic phenomena that occur in different types of texts and media;
- Ability to apply pragmatic theories to the analysis of the communicative exchanges of daily life, so as to provide convincing explanations of the speakers’ behaviors and reactions.
3) Judgment ability:
- Ability to foresee and assess the conversational effects and possible socio-relational consequences of the use of diverse communicative tools and marketing strategies.
- Taking into consideration the ethical dimension of social communication for the sake of a conscious and responsible use of communicative tools and marketing strategies.
The are no specific prerequisites. However, the course requires a solid general background, a very good mastery of English language, and an aptitude for reasoning and rational argumentation.
1. Introduction to pragmatics and the philosophy of language
1.1. Syntax, semantics, pragmatics.
1.2. Theories of meaning.
2. Meaning and context.
2.1. Forms of ambiguity.
2.2. Indexicals.
3. Saying and doing: communication and social conventions.
3.1. The performative dimension of language.
3.2. The theory of speech acts.
4. Inferences and Implicit messages.
4.1. Entailing: semantic consequences and logical consequences.
4.2. Taking for granted: presuppositions.
4.3. Implying: conversational implicatures.
5. Politeness and its rules.
1) J. L. AUSTIN, How to Do Things with Words, Oxford University Press, second ed., 1975 and ff., limited to the following parts: Lessons 1, 2, 3, 4, and 8.
2) G. YULE, Pragmatics, Oxford University Press, 1996 (reprint 2012)
3) P. GRICE, Logic and Conversation, in ID., Studies in the Way of Words, Harvard University Press, 1989, pp. 22-40.

In addition to the above, students who do not attend classes are required to study:
4) J. L. AUSTIN, How to Do Things with Words (see above): the entire book.
5) W.G. LYCAN, Philosophy of Language: A Contemporary Introduction, Routledge 2000 and ff., limited to the following chapters:
chapter 1. Introduction: meaning and reference, pp. 1-6
chapter 5. Traditional theories of meaning, pp. 65-75
chapter 7. Psychological theories: Grice’s program, pp. 86-97
chapter 11. Semantic pragmatics, pp. 137-143
chapter 12. Speech acts and illocutionary force, pp. 144-155
chapter 13. Implicative relations, pp. 156-172
chapter 14. Metaphor, pp. 175-190
Learning is assessed by means of a written exam. The exam consists of a series of open questions, which are aimed to ascertain the acquisition of both knowledge and abilities. The questions for assessing knowledge ask to expound topics and concepts that have been presented in the lessons and are treated in the bibliography. The questions for assessing abilities ask to solve exercises concerning communicative phenomena.
The exam takes up to 60 minutes.
Frontal lessons with the use of power point; use of multimedia resources; illustration of pragmatic phenomena by means of standard examples, "real life" cases, and mass media products; class discussion; questions and interventions by students.
Accessibility, Disability and Inclusion

Ca' Foscari abides by Italian Law (Law 17/1999; Law 170/2010) regarding support services and accommodation available to students with disabilities. This includes students with mobility, visual, hearing and other disabilities (Law 17/1999), and specific learning impairments (Law 170/2010). If you have a disability or impairment that requires accommodations (i.e., alternate testing, readers, note takers or interpreters) please contact the Disability and Accessibility Offices in Student Services:
Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 28/03/2022