Course Intercultural semantics and pragmatics


Course leader: Susana Silvia Fernandez

Language: English

Graduate school: Faculty of Arts

Course fee: 0.00 DKK

Status: Course is open for application

Semester: Fall 2023

Application deadline: 20/10/2023

Start date: 16/11/2023

Administrator: Henriette Jaquet


All students are placed on a waiting list until we reach application deadline.

The course will introduce the natural semantic metalanguage (NSM) approach and minimal language approach to intercultural semantics and pragmatics. NSM is based on evidence that there is a small core of basic, universal meanings, which can be used to explain semantics and pragmatics in a detailed, precise, cross-translatable and non-Anglocentric way. The minimal language approach is an application of NSM, designed to address communicative challenges in fields like teaching, science communication, health, etc.

Lectures and group work will explore the following topics, with reference to examples from many languages and cultures: • The metalanguage question and other theoretical issues in semantics and pragmatics •  The power of simple cross-translatable words (semantic primes and molecules) as a tool for investigating and representing meaning (NSM and the minimal language approach) • The relationship between semantics and pragmatics • From evidence to explications: the development process • Using cultural scripts and pedagogical scripts in intercultural communication studies and language education.


Ph.d.-students attending the course will gain an understanding of main trends within intercultural semantics and pragmatics, including NSM and Minimal Languages approaches.


Bromhead, Helen. 2018. Elevated places: Mountain, Hill, Puli. In Landscape and Culture – Cross-linguistic Perspectives (ch 3: pp. 57-88). John Benjamins.

Goddard, Cliff. 2015. “Swear words” and “curse words” in Australian (and American) English. At the crossroads of pragmatics, semantics and sociolinguistics. Intercultural Pragmatics, 12(2): 189-218.

Goddard, Cliff, Anna Gladkova and Zhengdao Ye. In press/2024. Ethnopragmatics (NSM approach). In Hans-Georg Wolf and Frank Polzenhagen (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Language and Culture, 2nd edition. Routledge. [*ms to be provided]

Goddard, Cliff, Anna Wierzbicka, and Zhengdao Ye. 2023. The Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) approach. In Fuyin Thomas Li (ed.), Handbook of Cognitive Semantics, Vol I. Leiden: Brill. [online]

Leung, Helen Hue Lam. 2017. Cantonese ‘mong4’: A cultural keyword of ‘busy’ Hong Kong. In Carsten Levisen and Sophia Waters (eds.), Cultural Keywords in Discourse (pp. 183-211). John Benjamins.

[A large database of NSM publications, plus other resources, is available at: ]

Target group:

Ph.d.-students at any stage of their project working within the area of linguistics and interested in learning more about the area of intercultural semantics and pragmatics.


There will be a seminar on the first day with lectures and group work and a master class on day 2 where ph.d.-students present their projects and get feedback from the instructor.

ECTS credits:

PhD students attending both the seminar and the master class will obtain 1 credit. PhD students attending both days and presenting own project will obtain 3 credits.


Prof. Cliff Goddard, Griffith University, Australia


Campus Aarhus, Nobelparken


Course dates:

  • 16 November 2023 10:00 - 17:00
  • 17 November 2023 09:00 - 13:00