This course is an introduction to the formal semantics of natural language. We introduce central concepts and issues in semantics, and develop a basic formal compositional model of meaning, extending it as we go to accommodate a wider range of empirical phenomena. An emphasis will be on students developing skills in semantic analysis and argumentation.
Topics – Week 1 (Stephanie Solt)
- Introduction and basic concepts (nature of meaning; meaning and truth; semantics vs. pragmatic; meaning relations)
- The formal representation of meaning (predicates and arguments; functions and sets; logical connectives; semantic types)
- Meaning composition (compositional rules; lambda abstraction; lambda conversion, modification)
- Quantification (logical quantifiers; quantifier scope; generalized quantifiers and their properties)
Topics – Week 2 (Jeremy Kuhn)
- Pronouns and binding
- Intensionality, modality, and possible worlds
- Focus and alternatives
Kearns, Kate (2011). Semantics (2nd edition). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.