Pragmatics and Communication

Academic Year 2023/2024 - Teacher: Giovanna Marina ALFONZETTI

Expected Learning Outcomes

1. Developping the reflection on language as a semiotic system and as an instrument by means of which human beings act and interact; on the relationship between language and context; on the principles
and structures of conversation.

2. Being able to interpret explicit and implicit contents of communication;

Being able to understand and analyze the main interactional strategies used by speakers to avoid conflict (verbal politeness) or on the contrary to cause it (verbal impoliteness), trying to understand principles, reasons and consequences.  

3. Developing the ability to understand written and spoken messages, their communicative intention, implicatures and presuppositions.

4. Developing spoken and written communicative competences in order to achieve the intended ends and goals in relation to both private and public and professional domains;

5. Developing a high level of learning ability to carry out research autonomously and to start professional routes.

Course Structure

The course is structured in dialogical and frontal lectures, individual and group exercises, self-evaluative reflections concerning the several contents dealt with.

Attendance of Lessons

Attendance is not compulsory.

Detailed Course Content

A)    Introduction to linguistic pragmatics (2 ECTS): scope, theoretical principles and methodological approaches. The influence of context on interpretation and the influence of language on context (speech act theory: Austin and Searle). The Cooperation Principle (Grice). Conversation analysis.

B)    Different theories on politeness (4 ECTS): normative (conduct books) and strategic: Brown & Levinson’s Face saving view; the Logic of Politeness (Lakoff) and the Politeness Principle (Leech). Pragmatic analysis of polite speech acts (compliments) and of polite conversation in Italian books of manners (galatei)

Textbook Information


A.    Introduction to pragmatics (2 ECTS).


- Bianchi C. 2003, Pragmatica del linguaggio, Bari, Laterza, pp.170.

- Levinson S. C. 1993, La struttura della conversazione, in La pragmatica, Bologna, Il Mulino,  pp. 357-453


B.     Verbal Politeness (4 ECTS).

-Alfonzetti G. 2009, I complimenti nella conversazione, Editori Riuniti, University Press (pp. 180).

- Alfonzetti G., “Mi lasci dire”. La conversazione nei galatei. Bulzoni 2017 (pp. 250).


The outlines of all lectures will be available on the platform STUDIUM


Please remember that in compliance with art 171 L22.04.1941, n. 633 and its amendments, it is illegal to copy entire books or journals, only 15% of their content can be copied.

For further information on sanctions and regulations concerning photocopying please refer to the regulations on copyright (Linee Guida sulla Gestione dei Diritti d’Autore) provided by AIDRO - Associazione Italiana per i Diritti di Riproduzione delle opere dell’ingegno (the Italian Association on Copyright).

All the books listed in the programs can be consulted in the Library.