Instructors: Ryan Bochnak/Berit Gehrke
This course is an introduction to natural language semantics, including the basic issues and data that have traditionally been the focus of study in formal approaches, the most influential theoretical frameworks, and the most commonly used research methodologies. Students will develop skills in semantic analysis and argumentation by focusing on semantic questions that arise in the analysis of a range of phenomena.
- Introduction, organisational issues; What is meaning? The roles of content and context in meaning, Semantics vs. Pragmatics vs. other modules in grammar, basic notions in semantics and pragmatics (e.g. Kearns 2011, ch. 1)
- Word meaning and sentence meaning, predicates, arguments, functions, semantic types (e.g. Kearns 2011, ch. 2 & 4)
- Compositional rules, lambda abstraction, lambda conversion, modification (e.g. Kearns 2011, ch. 4)
- Quantifiers (e.g. Kearns 2011, ch. 3 & 6)
- Gradable adjectives and degrees
- Focus and alternatives
- (Intensional semantics)
Optional preparatory references:
Beck, S. & R. Gergel (2014). Contrasting English and German Grammar: An Introduction to Syntax and Semantics. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
Chierchia, G. & S. McConnell Ginet (1990). Meaning and Grammar. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Heim, I. & A. Kratzer (1998). Semantics in Generative Grammar. Oxford: Blackwell.
Kearns, Kate. (2010). Semantics. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. (2nd Edition)
Partee, B., A. ter Meulen, & R. Wall (1990). Mathematical Methods in Linguistics. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Portner, P. (2005). What is Meaning? Fundamentals of Formal Semantics. Oxford: Blackwell.
de Swart, H. (1998). Introduction to Natural Language Semantics. Stanford: CSLI Publications.
Winter, Y. (2016). Elements of Formal Semantics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Zimmermann, T.E. & W. Sternefeld (2013). Introduction to Semantics: An Essential Guide to the Composition of Meaning. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.