• Offered by School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Linguistics
  • Areas of interest Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Prof Anna Wierzbicka
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2015
    See Future Offerings

This course provides practical training for anyone interested in the study of meaning, intercultural communication, or translation. It focuses on basic and universal human concepts and their role as a tool for comparing and explaining meanings across languages and cultures. The course explores semantic universals and their implications for semantic analysis on all levels of language, including lexicon, grammar and discourse. The course aims at improving the student's skills in exploring and describing the meaning of words, constructions and whole texts in the context of the study of languages and the 'stream of life'.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon succesful completion of this course, students will be able to:

1. Analyse the meaning of words, phrases and grammatical constructions in different languages.
2. Articulate the meaning of expressions through the natural semantic metalanguage in a precise and clear way.
3. Articulate cultural norms through 'cultural scripts'.
4. Clarify ideas, values and norms through simple and universal concepts.
5. Participate effectively in a collective thinking process leading towards a consensus about the meaning of expressions and ideas.

Indicative Assessment

Essay 1 (2,500 words) (45%) [Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4]

Essay 2 (2,500 words) (45%) – [Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4]

Class presentation (10%) – [Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


10 hours of work per week: 2 weekly contact hours plus 8 hours of regular work per week.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have successfully completed LING2008. Alternatively you may gain permission of the Course Convener to enrol in this course.

Prescribed Texts

Information about the textbook and required readings will be available on Wattle.

Preliminary Reading

  In the Reading Brick

  • Goddard, Cliff. In press. The Natural Semantic Metalanguage approach to linguistic analysis. In Heine and Narrog (eds.). Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Analysis.
  • Gaita, Raimond. 2009. Holocaust Resentment: the implications of the claim that the holocaust is unique and that aspects of it will forevere defeat our attempts to understand it. Lecture given at the Fritz Bauer Institute and Department of Philosophy of the University of Frankfurt on Holocaust Memorial Day.
  • Wierzbicka, Anna. In press. Bilingualism and Cognition: Perspective from Semantics. In Vivian Cook and Benedetta Bassetti (eds.) Language and Bilingual Cognition.
  • Goddard, Cliff. To appear. Have to, Have Got To, and Must: NSM Analyses of English Modal Verbs of "Necessity". Journal of English Linguistics.
  • Goddard, Cliff and Anna Wierzbicka. Forthcoming. Men, women and children: the semantics of basic social categories. Language.
  • Priestley, Carol. Forthcoming. What's in a name? Cultural values and terms of address and reference in a Papuan language.
  • Wierzbicka, Anna. Forthcoming. "Sex" in a cross-linguistics, cross-cultural and historical perspective. In Fifty English Keywords. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Goddard, Cliff and Anna Wierzbicka. 2008. Universal human concepts as a basis for contrastive linguistics. In María de los Ángeles Gómez-González, Lachlan Mackenzie and Elsa González Álvarez. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Gladkova, Anna. 2008. Tolerance. New and traditional values in Russian in comparison with English. In Cliff Goddard. Cross-Linguistic Semantics. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
  • Wierzbicka, Anna. 2009. Language and Metalanguage: Key issues in emotion research. Emotion Review. 1 (1) 3-14. With the Debate, four short papers. 15-23.
  • Ye, Zhengdao. 2001. An inquiry into "sadness" in Chinese. In Jean Harkins and Anna Wierzbicka. Emotions in Crosslinguistic Perspective. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter. 359-404.
  • Wierzbicka, Anna. 2008. A conceptual basis for intercultural pragmatics and world-wide understanding. In Martin Pütz and JoAnne Neff-van Aertselaer. Developing Contrastive Pragmatics: Interlanguage and Cross-Cultural Perspectives.
  • Yoon, Kyung-Joo. 2009. Imposition as an expression of ceng ‘affection' in the Korean cultural context. Presented at the international Cross-Culturally Speaking, Speaking Cross-culturally Conference, Macquarie University, Sydney (on July 6th 2009).
  • Wierzbicka, Anna In press. All people eat and drink. Does that mean that ‘eat' and ‘drink' are universal human concepts? In John Newman (ed.). The Linguistics of Eating and Drinking. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Ye, Zhengdao. 2006. Why the "inscrutable" Chinese face? Emotionality and facial expression in Chinese. In Cliff Goddard. Ethnopragmatics: Understanding Discourse in Cultural Context. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Wierzbicka, Anna. Reading human faces: Emotion components and universal semantics. Pragmatics and Cognition 1(1) 1-23.
  • Wierzbicka, Anna. 2009. Case in NSM: A reanalysis of the Polish dative. In The Oxford Handbook of Case. Oxford University Press.
  • Goddard, Cliff. 2008. Natural Semantic Metalanguage: The state of the art. Introduction to Cross-Linguistic Semantics. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 1-34.
  • Goddard, Cliff. 2006. Cultural Scripts. In Jan Östman and Jef Verschueren in colloboration with Eline Versluys. Handbook of Pragmatics.
  • Goddard, Cliff and Anna Wierzbicka. 2004. Cultural Scripts: What are they and what are they good for? Intercultural Pragmatics. (Special Issue on Cultural Scripts) 2: 153-165.

In Chifley Library

Goddard, Cliff and Anna Wierzbicka. 2002. Meaning and Universal Grammar: Theory and empirical findings. Volumes I and II. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Wierzbicka, Anna. 2006. English: Meaning and culture. New York: OUP

Wierzbicka, Anna. 2010. Experience, Evidence, and Sense: The hidden cultural legacy of English. New York: Oxford University Press.





Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $2604
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $3576
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
2322 20 Jul 2015 07 Aug 2015 31 Aug 2015 30 Oct 2015 In Person N/A

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