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LING30007 Semantics

Recommended? No
Available as Breadth? Yes

Linguistics is great if you’re interested in knowing how language functions. However, if you think you would like to know what words actually mean, think again. This subject is all about delineating what words mean using various concepts in linguistic semantics, from formal semantics (which include quasi-mathematical formulae and are extremely off-putting for Arts students who dislike dealing with numbers and symbols) to cognitive semantics (a grand mixture of psychology and linguistics with a whole load of buzzwords such as ‘conceptual metaphor’). Assignments will ask that you explore the meaning of a single word, or distinguish between categories of verbs in terms of their semantic function, and you would think it would be as easy as looking through a dictionary. It’s not. Spoiler alert: the final essay is the ultimate nail in the coffin of your academic life; you are expected to apply one of the very complex approaches to semantics that you have learnt throughout the semester without much guidance. The fact that the lecturer is really lovely makes this subject one of the most deceptive Trojan horses around.