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Semantics: current issues


Admission requirements

Basic knowledge of formal semantics (e.g., the equivalent of semantics 1 and semantics 2 in the BA linguistics programme)


In this seminar, we discuss current issues in the research on cross-linguistic variation and universals in lexical semantics, within the framework of formal semantics. In the first half of the seminar, we review the theoretical framework, as well as existing research on the cross-linguistic universals of logical vocabularies, such as logical connectives (e.g., "and", "or") and generalized quantifiers ("every", "some"). In the second half, we explore how cross-linguistic variation and universals in lexical semantics can be investigated in less-studied empirical domains: modal and attitudinal vocabularies (such as "may", "must" and "believe", "know"), as well as discourse particles such as Dutch "hoor" and "wel", through examining existing cross-linguistic and language-particular studies. The seminar also involves student presentations of original research proposals relevant to the topic.

Course objectives

  1. To learn how the framework of formal semantics can be applied to the research on the cross-linguistic universals and variation in lexical semantics.
  2. To learn the existing research results pertaining to the cross-linguistic universals in the semantics of logical vocabularies.
  3. To familiarize oneself with current issues pertaining to the cross-linguistic universals and variation in the semantics of logical vocabularies and modal/attitudinal vocabularies.
  4. To be able to discuss the theoretical relevance of particular linguistic data within formal semantics.


The timetable is available on the website of the MA Linguistics.

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total course load EC x 28 hours= hours

  • Lectures: 4 x 13 = 52 hours

  • Study of compulsory literature: 13 x 10 = 130 hours

  • Presentation: 5 hours

  • Assignment(s): 38 hours

  • Squib/short paper: 55 hours

Assessment method

Assignments: 30% Presentation: 10% Squib (short paper): 60%

### Exam Review

Students are entitled to view their marked examination within a period of 30 days, following publication of the results of a written examination.


Blackboard is used for this course for

  • Distributing class materials

  • Submission and grading of assignments

  • Other communication between students and the lecturer

Reading list

The reading list will be distributed in the first class.


This has to be filled out by the key-user of the department.

Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Contact information

Dr. W. Uegaki

Coordinator of Studies: P.C. Lai

Please contact Student administration van Eyckhof