Courses / MA Courses

Spanish Pragmatics. How to Do Things Using the Language.


1. Rationale. Course description. In one sense, Pragmatics is concerned with how we use the language, why and how the speakers communicate in social interactions. The interpretation of meaning in context is probably the main field of study of this multidiscipline, considering the speaker-meaning as the central point of departure. The term Pragmatics refers to a broad perspective on different aspects of communication, including linguistics, but also cognitive psychology, cultural anthropology, philosophy, sociology and rhetoric among others.

1. Rationale. Course description.

Through this course we will study chronologically and apply in specific cases of study of the Spanish language the most meaningful pragmatic theories, such as: Context, Deixis, Speech acts, Implicature, Cooperative Principle, Politeness, Relevance, Pragmatic markers, Metaphors and Cross-cultural pragmatics.

Pragmatics, as we know, is a most helpful criterion in the interpretation of many different types of texts. As a course within our Department’s curriculum this instrument of rhetoric analysis is a basic tool in the comprehension of our students’ discourse in their literary, cultural, and critical papers. This discipline goes beyond the analysis of strictly forms or verbal utterances, hence its multidisciplinary applicability to a wide range of fields of studies in Spanish.

Whichever the student’s field of study might be, Pragmatics provides a valuable and accurate vocabulary that can be applied to any textual interpretation. In this course, the pragmatic perspective is a starting point to delve into the processes of communication in Spanish. After this first approach, the student will gain an insight into new aspects of the linguistics of language use in general and the use of Spanish in particular. Summarizing:

2. Objectives. Student learning outcomes.

The main objective of this course at the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures is double fold:

1. To learn new concepts of Pragmatic theories and the elements involved in the rhetoric process. To learn linguistic terminology and to use it accurately to analyze language uses in Spanish. To provide the students with academic criteria for analyzing Spanish beyond traditional component disciplines: Phonetics, Phonology, Morphology, Syntax and Semantics, using the framework of the main pragmatics theories. Beyond sounds, words and sentences there are patterns that cannot be understood outside the context. We will try to explore how the pragmatic perspective tries to explain the usage-related aspects of the Spanish.

2. To improve not only the student’s linguistic and communicative competence in Spanish, but also their pragmatics skills while giving them ample opportunities to analyze and to performance their Spanish in their academic and social environments. To improve Academic Spanish by working with a wide variety of text genres, writing and reading skills in Spanish. In other words, we want to stimulate the cognitive flexibility enriching the understanding of new pragmatic concepts. Advanced-Superior Spanish level is required to register. Open to undergraduate students with instructor’s permission.

3. Evaluation criteria.

3.a. Participation and attendance 20 %

We will discuss and apply new pragmatic concepts in class. You must come to class prepared completing all the readings and activities. Cooperation and active collaboration is one of the key point in order to success in this course.

3.b. Five bibliography guides with activities 30 %

These five guides provide a wide range of activities that help students to understand some of the bibliography chapters with a critical analysis of the assigned texts through a close reading of the content but also aiming the academic writing in Spanish. Deadlines:

Guide 1. Weeks 1 and 2.  September 13th.

-Guide 2. Weeks 3 and 4.  September 27th.

-Guide 3. Weeks 5 and 6.  October 11th.

-Guide 4. Weeks 7 and 8.  October 25th.

-Guide 5. Weeks 9 and 10.  November 8th.

-Pragmatic activities about the script Volver: weeks 11-14.

3.c. Learning diaries  20 %

Students must reflect on their progress in this class by analyzing their grasp of the new contents, articles and chapters, as well as new pragmatic concepts and their achievements and problems with Spanish uses. Students are provided with weekly templates throughout the semester. Deadlines:

3.d. Every week students must reflect on their progress in this class by analyzing their grasp of the new contents, articles and chapters, as well as new pragmatic concepts and their achievements and problems with Spanish uses. Students are provided with weekly templates throughout the semester. Deadlines:

- Diaries for weeks 1 to 8. October 25th

-Diaries for weeks 9 to 14. December 6th

3.e. Final project 30 % . December 6th.

Grade scale

100 = A+    95-99 = A     90-94 = A-

87-89 = B+    83-86 = B    80-82 = B-

77-79 = C+   73-76 = C  70-72 = C-

60-69 = D

4. Materials.

Students can find in courseworks all the materials and tools for this course, including:

- Worksheets for the activities in the classroom.

- Videos and links about uses of oral interactions.

- Presentations about the content for every session.

- Discussion boards.

- Learning diaries.

- PDF with all the bibliography.

- Bibliography guides.

- On line resources. See 7.

5. Expectations.

5.1. Late Assignments.

Assignments that are handed in late will be marked down in the following way: 1-2 days late, grade will be lowered by a half grade, 3 days to 1 week late, grade will be lowered one full grade. No papers are accepted that are more than one week late.

5.2. Class Preparation.

To prepare for class, you need to carefully read the due that day.

5.3. Attendance and absences.

Although attendance to all classes is mandatory, students will not be penalized for up to two absences throughout the semester. Absences beyond this limit will result in the lowering of the final course grade by half a grade for each additional absence (for example from A to A-). For absences in excess of these two, due to unforeseeable emergencies, you need to submit written documentation. Also, for each class missed beyond the two permitted absences, you have to submit the paragraphs from the missed class on the day that you return to class.

5.4. Academic Integrity.

The Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures fully supports and adheres to all Columbia University policies and procedures regarding academic dishonesty (plagiarism, fabrication, cheating, etc.). The work you submit in this class is expected to be your own. If you submit work that has been copied from any published or unpublished source (including the Internet) without attribution, that has been prepared by someone other than you, or that in any way misrepresents somebody else’s work as your own you will face disciplining by the university. It is expected that all students abide by the university’s Code of Academic Integrity:

and that they refrain from any activity constitutive of academic dishonesty as defined therein. For additional information, visit the section on Academic Integrity in the College and University Policies:

or consult your instructor in the event of any uncertainty on your part about what may constitute academic dishonesty

Last Updated 5 years ago


Advanced-Superior Spanish level is required to register.


Almodóvar, Pedro. Volver. Guión cinematográfico. Madrid: Ocho y medio, 2006. Print.

Archer, Dawn and Grundy, Peter (Eds.). The Pragmatics Reader. London: Routledge, 2011. Print.

Austin, John Langshow. How to do things with words. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1962. Print.

Briz, Antonio. El español coloquial en la conversación. Esbozo de pragmagramática. Barcelona: Ariel, 1998. Print.

Briz Antonio et al. ¿Cómo se comenta un texto coloquial?. Barcelona: Ariel, 2000. Print.

Briz, Antonio et al. Diccionario de partículas Discursivas: Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología (2000-2008)

Fundación Comillas (2009-2011).


Brown, Penelope &  Levinson, Stephen. Politeness: Some universals in language

usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.  Print.

Calvo Pérez, Julio.  Introducción a la pragmática del español. Madrid: Cátedra, 1994. Print.

Casamiglia, Helena y Tusón, Amparo. Las cosas del decir. Manual de análisis del discurso. Barcelona: Ariel, 1999. Print.

Chamorro Guerrero, María Dolores, Gracia Lozano López, Aurelio Ríos Rojas, Francisco Rosales Varo, José Plácido Ruiz Campillo, and Guadalupe Ruiz Fajardo. El Ventilador. Curso superior de español como lengua española. Barcelona: Difusión, 2005. Print.

Cuenca, María Josep & Hilferty, Joseph. Introducción a la lingüística cognitiva. Barcelona: Ariel, 1999. Print.

Cutting, Joan. Pragmatics. A resourse book for students. London: Routledge, 2015. Print.

Escandell-Vidal, María Victoria. La comunicación. Madrid: Gredos, 2006. Print.

Escandell-Vidal, María Victoria. Introducción a la pragmática. Barcelona: Ariel, 2006. New edition 2013. Print.

Escavi Zamora, Ricardo. Pragmática y subjetividad lingüítica. Murcia: Universidad de Murcia, 2011. Print.

Fuentes Rodríguez, Catalina. La gramática de la cortesía en español/LE. Cuadernos de didáctica del español/LE. Madrid: Arco Libros, 2010. Print.


Grice, Paul. “Logic and conversation”  Eds. Cole, Peter  & Morgan, Jerry. Syntax and semantics 3: Speech acts (pp. 41-58). New York, NY: Academic Press, 1975. Print.

Gumperz, John, J. (Eds.). Language and Social Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982. Print.

Haverkate, Henk. La cortesía verbal. Estudio pragmalingüístico. Madrid: Gredos, 1994. Print.

Gutierrez Ordonez, Salvador. Comentario pragmático de textos de deshecho. Madrid: Arco Libros, 2000. Print.

Gutierrez Ordonez, Salvador. Comentario pragmático de textos polifónicos. Madrid: Arco Libros, 2003. Print.

Lakoff, George and Johnson, Mark. Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003. Print.

Leech, Geoffrey. Principles of pragmatics. London: Longman, 1983. Print.


Levinson, Sthepen C. Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983. Print.


Locastro, Virginia. Pragmatics for Language Educators. A Sociolinguistic Perspective. London: Routledge, 2011. Print.


O’Keeffe, Anne & Clancly, Brian & Adolphs, Svenja. Introducing pragmatics in use. London: Routledge, 2011. Print.



Pinto, Derrin & De Pablos Órtega, Carlos. Seamos Pragmáticos. New heaven and London: Yale University Press. 2014. Print.


Plan curricular del Instituto Cervantes. Niveles de referencia para el español (Vol. 1).

Madrid: Instituto Cervantes, Biblioteca Nueva, 2006. Print.

Pons Borderia, Salvador. Conceptos y Aplicaciones de la Teoría de la relevancia. Madrid: Arco Libro, 2004. Print.

Portolés, José. Marcadores del discurso. Barcelona: Ariel, 1998. Print.


Portolés, José. Pragmática para hispanistas. Madrid: Síntesis, 2007. Print.


Reyes, Graciela. La pragmática lingüística. Un estudio para el uso del lenguaje. Barcelona: Montesinos, 1990. Print.


Reyes, Graciela. El abecé de la pragmática. Madrid: Arco Libros, 1995. Print.

Senft, Gunter. Understanding Pragmatics. London: Routledge, 2014. Print.

Sperber Deidre , Wilson Dan. Relevance: communication and cognition. Oxford: Blackwell, 1986. Print.

Tusón, Amparo. Análisis de la conversación. Barcelona: Ariel, 1997. Print.

Van Dijk, T.A. (Eds.). Discourse Studies: a Multidisciplinary Introduction. London: Sage, 1997. Print.

Verschueren, Jef. Understanding Pragmatics. London: Arnold, 1999. Print.

Wierzbicka, Anna. Cross-cultural Pragmatics: the Semantics of Human Interaction. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 1991. Print.

Yule, George. Pragmatics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996. Print.

Yus, Francisco. Ciberpragmática 2.0. Nuevos usos del lenguaje en Internet. Barcelona: Ariel, 2010. Print.

External Resources

On line resources.

Diccionario de la Real Academia Española. RAE.


Word Reference.


CARLA. Center of Advanced Research for Language Acquisition. Pragmatics.


Discourse Pragmatics. Indiana University.


Diccionario de partículas discursivas del español. DPDE.


Radio Televisión Española. RTVE.


The Columbia Corpus of Conversations in Spanish