Berit Gehrke & Daria Seres: Introduction to semantics

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.


  • 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)
  • Event semantics

Optional readings