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First Semester 
Teaching style
Prevalentemente a distanza 
Lingua Insegnamento

Informazioni aggiuntive

Course Curriculum CFU Length(h)
[30/35]  COMMUNICATION SCIENCE [35/00 - Ord. 2014]  PERCORSO COMUNE 12 60


The general aim of the course is to introduce the main theoretical issues on language and communication, as a basis to deepen more specific topics, concerning non-literal meaning and, in particular, irony.

1) Knowledge of the basic concept of language theory, such as meaning, reference, description, truth, conceptual scheme, speaker’s beliefs, desires and intentions.
2) Understanding of the main contemporary theories of language, with particular attention to approaches which aims to understand the communicative aspects of meaning.

1) Ability to apply knowledge to analyse natural language utterances.
2) Ability to distinguish, in real-world cases, literal vs. non-literal meaning, reference, truth conditions.

Ability to evaluate different theoretical proposals, comparing some cases of literal/non-literal utterances and the explanation given by the theories which will be proposed in the lectures.

1) Ability to learn the disciplinary terminology and use it to properly present the fundamental concepts, with particular reference to contemporary theories of language.
2) Ability to argue in favour of or against a thesis, highlighting and distinguishing hypotheses, methods and results.

1) Ability to use the analysis tools to grasp the different aspects of the meaning of any utterance.
2) Ability to acquire a study methodology to examine in depth the set of problems connected to language which might come up in the future academic/professional career.


No special requirements are necessary to successfully attend the course. However, it is desirable to have adequate skills in reading comprehension and writing.
It will be useful to have studied the basic notions of the course of Logic and Theory of argumentation.


The course of Theories of Language and Communication aims to introduce to the main notions and contemporary theories of meaning and to study, as a monographic theme, non-literal meaning and in particular irony. The course is divided into two parts:

The first part of the course aims to introduce the fundamental notions of theory of language, as for instance the sense/meaning distinction, the concept of truth, reference, etc. mechanisms of human mind responsible for language comprehension.

The second part of the course will consider, as a monographic theme, irony.

The course will specifically explore the following issues:
1. The linguistic turn and the main (phonologic, syntactic, semantic, pragmatic) structures of language;
2. Sense/meaning distinction;
3. Reference;
4. The Externalism/Internalism Debate;
5. Poverty of the Stimulus Argument;
6. The modularity of mind;
7. The inferential theory of meaning;
8. Contextualism and Relevance Theory;
9. Presuppositions;
10. Figurative meaning.

Teaching Methods

Lectures (20h - 10 lectures), 4 didactic modules on the platform (20h), laboratory online (20h). Due to the sanitary situation, the lectures might be held online or made available online via the didactic platform.

Verification of learning

1) a written test with multiple choices on the themes of the first part of the course.
2) an oral test on the themes of the second part of the course;
3) an experimental study on irony in the didactic platform.

The students will be asked
1) to use the appropriate disciplinary terminology;
2) to know the basic concepts of language theory;
3) to understand the main contemporary theories of meaning;
4) to critically present the hypotheses of the different theories, highlighting the communicative aspects;
5) to apply the acquired knowledge and theories to real-world utterances.

The exam score is expressed in 30/30. The written test includes 30 questions/close answers (min 18/30 to be admitted to the oral test). The oral one includes two questions. A score of max 10/30 will be attributed to each question. A score of max 10/30 will be attributed to the experimental project. The final mark (and, potentially, the “cum laude”) will consider 1) the active participation of the students to the lectures and the online activities; 2) the experimental study presented.
Exam evaluation and the final mark will be mainly based on the following elements:

1. accuracy of the disciplinary terminology
2. accuracy and completeness of acquired knowledge
3. adequacy of argumentation
4. accuracy of the analysis.

Due to the sanitary situation, the exam might be held online via available online interactive platforms.


Texts in Italian for attending students:
F. Ervas, Pensare e parlare. I fondamenti cognitivi della comunicazione, Editori Riuniti, Roma, 2016.
U. Eco, Tra menzogna e ironia, La nave di Teseo, Milano, 2020.
And the following papers available online:
F.P. Gentile, Ironia, in “AphEx. Portale italiano di Filosofia analitica” 6, 2012, pp. 74-100; disponibile online al seguente indirizzo:,2012TemiIroniaGentile.pdf
F.P. Gentile, Teorie dell'ironia, in “AphEx. Portale italiano di Filosofia analitica” 6, 2012, pp. 74-100; disponibile online al seguente indirizzo:
F. Domaneschi, C. Penco, Presupposizioni, in “AphEx. Portale italiano di Filosofia analitica”, n. 15, 2017; disponibile online al seguente indirizzo:,2017TemiPresupposizioniDomaneschi-Penco.pdf

Texts in English for attending erasmus students:
R. Jakendoff, Patterns in the Mind: Language and Human Nature, New York, Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1993.
R. Kreuz, Irony and Sarcasm, Chicago, The Mit Press, 2020.

More Information

Attendance is not mandatory.
Non-attending students are required to add the following papers in Italian:
D. Mingardo, Composizionalità, in “AphEx. Portale italiano di Filosofia analitica”, n. 4, 2011; disponibile online al seguente indirizzo:
F. Gusmano, Significato, uso e inferenza, in “AphEx. Portale italiano di Filosofia analitica”, n. 3, 2011; disponibile online al seguente indirizzo:
V. Tripodi, La distinzione fregeana tra senso e riferimento, in “AphEx. Portale italiano di Filosofia analitica”, n. 1, 2010, pp. 237-289; disponibile online al seguente indirizzo:

These papers might be of help also for students attending the course. Some slides which summarise the lectures are available at:

Non attending erasmus students:
Non attending erasmus students should add the text by W. Lycan, Philosophy of Language: A Contemporary Introduction, Routledge, London & New York, 2018.

Students with special needs may benefit from a Disabled Office ( that certifies their difficulties in order to arrange individualized programs and can suggest specific learning methods.

Questionnaire and social

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