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ENGL2130 - Signs, Language and Meaning: Integrational perspectives
2020-2021 First Semester
Contact Hours per week
Form of Assessment
100% coursework
Tuesday , 1:30 pm - 4:20 pm , KKLG103
Passed 3 introductory courses (with at least one from both List A and List B).

This course introduces students to the basic tenets of integrational linguistics and integrationism. Integrational linguistics builds on the foundational work of Roy Harris (1931-2015), and takes as its point of departure a theory of the sign which emphasizes the temporal, contextual and experiential dimensions of language and communication. Language users are also seen as language makers, in that they constantly create meaning and integrate and adapt their linguistic experience to novel situations. Integrational linguistics theorizes the sign as subservient to human activities; it sees itself as ‘lay-oriented’, in that it takes as its point of departure the idea that every language user is also a ‘linguist,’ and seeks to understand the status of concepts like ‘language’, ‘words’, ‘rule’, ‘understanding’, ‘communication’, etc. as they are reflected or realized in the lay and professional understandings of language. While integrational linguistics is 'lay-oriented', it is, however, not a folk theory of communication. This course aims to provide insights into a wide range of philosophical questions about language and communication, contrasting the integrational view to the so-called ‘segregational’ view and raising questions about linguistics as an empirical science and as an ethnocentric enterprise.


Course Learning Outcomes

At the end of this course, students

  • will have gained an understanding of the basic premises of integrational linguistics and integrationism. (CLO1)
  • will be able to identify the common and uncommon grounds between integrational linguistics and mainstream linguistics. (CLO2)
  • will have reflected critically on whether (and to what extent) integrational linguistics is empirical and can be applied to data (CLO3)
  • will have acquired a framework for reflecting on their own individual linguistic experience. (CLO4)
  • will have arrived at an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the integrational paradigm as a whole. (CLO5)



The primary requirements are a quiz covering the contents of the first 8 sessions (30%) and an end-of-term research paper (70%).

The quiz mainly aims to foster CLOs 1,2,5.
The research paper mainly aims to foster CLOs 3,4.

The quiz requirements are the same for letter-grade and pass-fail students.
The research paper requirement is 2000 words for letter-grade students and 1000 words for pass-fail students.

The research paper can be theoretical or empirical in nature. The former will be based on a scholarly engagement with a selection of secondary sources, while the latter requires students to apply the theoretical concepts of integrational linguistics to the analysis of ‘data’.

Deadlines: Research paper (08/12/2020, 16.00pm. Please send a soft copy to apable@hku.hk)

Please hand in your papers on time. There will be a penalty for late submissions.
Plagiarism: (https://english.hku.hk/plagiarism.htm)
For the Faculty’s UG grade expectations, please see (http://arts.hku.hk/file/upload/2485/grade_expectations.pdf)



01/09/2020: Session 1: Introducing Roy Harris and integrationism (Harris 2010: 1-5)

08/09/2020: Session 2: Language and Communication (Harris 2010: 7-53)

15/09/2020: Session 3: The Language Myth (Harris 2010: 55-97)

22/09/2020: Session 4: Language and Meaning (Harris 2010: 99-145)

29/09/2020: Session 5: The Semiology of Writing (Harris 2010: 168-185)

06/10/2020: Session 6: Language and Society (Harris 2010: 187- 211)

20/10/2020: Session 7: Language and Knowledge (Harris 2010: 213-221)

27/10/2020: Session 8: The Supercategories (Harris 2006)

03/11/2020: Session 9: Quiz (30%)

10/11/2020: Session 10: human-animal communication: integrational reflections (Kwok 2020)

17/11/2020: Session 11: Language and the South (Pennycook and Makoni 2019: 102-121)

24/11/2020: Session 12: Any Questions? (Harris 2012; Harris 2014)

Class readings:

  • Harris, Roy. 2006. ‘Integrationism and Godspeak’. Integrationist Papers 2003-2005. Tree Tongue, 67-71.
  • Harris, Roy. 2010. Linguistic Inquiry. Unpublished manuscript. (revised version of Harris 1998)
  • Harris, Roy. 2012. ‘Any questions?’. Integrationist Notes and Papers 2012. Bright Pen, 83-96.
  • Harris, Roy. 2014. ‘Questions and answers’. Integrationist Notes and Papers 2014. Bright Pen, 63-68.
  • Kwok, Sinead. 2020. ‘The human-animal divide in communication: anthropocentric, posthuman and integrationist perspectives’. Language & Communication 74: 63-73.
  • Pennycook, Alastair and Sinfree Makoni. 2019. Innovations and Challenges in Applied Linguistics from the Global South. London/New York: Routledge.


General Literature (selected bibliography)

Davis, Hayley and Talbot Taylor. 1990. Redefining Linguistics. Routledge.

Davis, Hayley. 2001. Words. An Integrational Approach. Curzon.

Duncker, Dorthe. 2018. The Reflexivity of Language and Linguistic Inquiry. Routledge.

Harris, Roy. 1986. The Origin of Writing. Duckworth.

Harris, Roy. 1989. ‘The worst English in the world?’. University of Hong Kong. Supplement to the Gazette. Vol. XXXVI: 37-46.

Harris, Roy. 1996. The Language Connection. Thoemmes Press.

Harris, Roy. 1996. Signs, Language and Communication. Routledge.

Harris, Roy. 1981. The Language Myth. Duckworth.

Harris, Roy. 1987. The Language Machine. Cornell University Press.

Harris, Roy. 1996. Saussure and his Interpreters. Edinburgh University Press.

Harris, Roy. 2000. Rethinking Writing. Continuum Press.

Harris, Roy (ed.). 2002. The Language Myth in Western Culture. Curzon Press.

Harris, Roy. 2003. The Necessity of Artspeak. Continuum Press.

Harris, Roy. 2004. The Linguistics of History. Edinburgh Press.

Harris, Roy. 2005. The Semantics of Science. Continuum Press.

Harris, Roy. 2006. Integrationist Notes and Papers. 2003-2005. Tree Tongue.

Harris, Roy. 2008. Mindboggling. Pantaneto Press.

Harris, Roy. 2009. After Epistemology. Authors Online LTD.

Harris, Roy. 2009. Integrationist Notes and Papers. 2006-2008. Bright Pen.

Harris, Roy. 2010. The Great Debate about Art. University of Chicago Press.

Harris, Roy. 2011. Integrationist Notes and Papers. 2009-2011. Bright Pen.

Harris, Roy. 2012. Integrationist Notes and Papers. 2012. Bright Pen.

Harris, Roy. 2013. Integrationist Notes and Papers. 2013. Bright Pen.

Harris, Roy. 2014. Integrationist Notes and Papers. 2014. Bright Pen.

Harris, Roy & George Wolf. 1998. Integrational Linguistics: A First Reader. Pergamon Press.

Harris, Roy and Christopher Hutton. 2007. Definition in Theory and Practice. Language, Lexicography and the Law. London: Continuum.

Hutton, Christopher. 1990. Abstraction and Instance. Pergamon Press.

Hutton, Christopher. 2019. Integrationism and the Self. Reflections on the Legal Personhoood of Animals. Routledge.

Love, Nigel. (ed.) 2004. Language and History. Integrationist Perspectives. Routledge.

Love, Nigel. 1990. The Foundations of Linguistic Theory. Selected Writings of Roy Harris. Routledge.

Pablé, Adrian. 2009. The ‘dialect myth’ and socio-onomastics. The names of the castles of Bellinzona in an integrational perspective. Language & Communication 29(2): 152-165.

Pablé, Adrian & Christopher Hutton. 2015. Signs, Meaning and Experience. Integrational Approaches to Linguistics and Semiotics. Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter.

Pablé, Adrian (ed.). 2017. Critical Humanist Perspectives. Routledge.

Saftoiu, Razvan & Adrian Pablé (eds.). 2018. ‘Integrating Dialogue’. Special Issue of Language & Dialogue 8,1. John Benjamins.

Taylor, Talbot. 1992. Mutual Misunderstanding. Duke University Press.

Toolan, Michael. 1996. Total Speech. An Integrational Linguistic Approach to Language. Duke University Press.

Toolan, Michael. (ed.) 2009. Language Teaching. Integrational Linguistic Approaches. Routledge.

Wolf, George and Nigel Love (eds.). 1997. Linguistics Inside Out: Roy Harris and his Critics. John Benjamins.


The following books are available on-line as ‘ebooks’ in the university library:

Harris, Roy and George Wolf (eds.).1998. Integrational Linguistics a first Reader. Pergamon.

Harris, Roy. 2003. The Necessity of Artspeak: the language of the arts in the western tradition. Continuum.

Harris, Roy. 2000. Rethinking Writing. Indiana University Press.

Harris, Roy.  2005. The Semantics of Science. Continuum.

Harris, Roy and Talbot Taylor (eds.). 1997. The Western Tradition from Socrates to Saussure. Routledge.


Useful weblinks

Homepage of Roy Harris: http://www.royharrisonline.com

Homepage of the International Association for the Integrational Study of Language and Communication:  http://www.integrationists.com

Wikipage on Harris: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Harris_(linguist)

Two linguistics journals which feature articles in integrational linguistics (both are available on-line in the library): Language & Communication; Language Sciences

2020-2021 First Semester
Contact Hours per week
Form of Assessment
100% coursework
Tuesday , 1:30 pm - 4:20 pm , KKLG103
Passed 3 introductory courses (with at least one from both List A and List B).