This introductory course explores the functions of language in social life and communication. It offers an initial overview of central perspectives and theoretical trends in the analysis of language and discourse, both from the realms of linguistics, philosophy of language and rhetoric, and from sociological perspectives and communication studies. The course begins with a discussion about language as a dynamic and rich system of symbols, and examines the complex relations between “meaning” and verbal communication. From this point, we shall further explore the processes of verbal communication and overview the dynamics of meaning construction and message decryption in everyday communication. The course will also discuss the modalities by which language constitutes and reflects social differentiation, and analyze the relations between language and class, gender, ethnicity, as well as power structure, social control and dominance of the public sphere. The last part of the course addresses the issue of language and social action: on the basis of theoretical frameworks of persuasion, influence and social change, we shall discuss the modalities by which language can form opinions and behaviors, and constitute human perceptions of social reality. The theoretical perspectives and methodological instruments discussed in the course are illustrated by a rich verity of examples taken from current actuality and media materials. The course also offers a guided exercise which provides an opportunity to experiment in the analysis and critical interpretation of media and social uses of language.