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Semantic Approaches to Syntax


Admission requirements


Course Description

The first part is more theoretical and centers around the question of how can one analyze syntax from a semantic or functional point of view. What different approaches exist, and what are the strong and weak points of these approaches? What are the basic (philosophical) ideas about language underlying these models or approaches? Furthermore, how do they differ from non-semantic (purely syntactic) approaches to syntax? This question will be addressed by reading papers on various topics.
The second part of the class will focus on one (or more) specific topic or a particular construction. This part will involve both reading and analysis of literature, and a small research based on a corpus. The languages that will be investigated depend on the background of the student.

Course objectives

(i) General overview of different semantic approaches to syntax (e.g. structuralism, construction grammar, cognitive linguistics, philosophy of language)
(ii) Insight into a number of specific linguistic constructions/phenomena (e.g. word order, wh-movement, etc.)
(iii) Ability to do research on this topic by using a corpus.


See “timetable”: http://hum.leiden.edu/linguistics/timetables-linguistics/timetableslinguistics.html
See timetable

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

  • Four assignments (together 1/3 of the final grade)

  • Paper (2/3 of final grade)

  • Each student will give (at least) one presentation (this is obligatory but not graded)


This is a Blackboard-supported course

Reading list

To be announced


Through uSis

Contact information

Dr. E.L.J. Fortuin