The course is open to students whohave followed at least an introduction to formal semantics. They should be familiar with textbooks such as: Chierchia and McConnel-Ginet’s Meaning and Grammar, Heim and Kratzer’s Semantics in Generative Grammar, De Swart’s Introduction to natural language semantics, or comparable works.
This course deals with some contemporary frameworks of formal semantics for natural languages. It presents approaches to fundamental questions of predication, quantification, modality, negation, tense and aspect. The course addresses various topics, such as type theory and lambda-calculus, generalized quantification, intentional and higher order logics, and modes of compositionality. In particular, we will go into the question to what extent the semantics of natural languages can be considered to be computable, and what the relation is between computable and noncomputable aspects of semantics. The whole course will focus on entailment and inference as the empirical foundation of the theory of meaning.
As the field of semantics is hardly complete and done, students are encouraged to use their creativity and analytical potential to contribute to discussions and presentations.
The student is able to present a semantic issue in formal terms and to describe methods for solving the issue.
Mode of instruction
2-hour weekly seminar
F. Landman, Structures for Semantics
L.T.F. Gamut, Logic, Language and Meaning
J. van Benthem and A. ter Meulen (eds), Handbook of Logic and Language
S. Lappin (ed), Handbook of Contemporary Semantics
P. Portner and B. Partee (eds), Formal Semantics. The Essential Readings
B. Partee, A. ter Meulen and R. Wall (eds), Mathematical Methods in Linguistics