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Dynamic Semantics

Dynamic semantics models how linguistic expressions change the context and thereby affect the interpretation of subsequent context-dependent expressions. This idea has been implemented in various ways, shedding new light on a host of phenomena in typologically diverse languages. This course is an introduction to update semantics, which implements the idea that “you know the meaning of a sentence if you know the change it brings about in the information state of anyone who accepts the news conveyed by it” (Veltman 1996).We discuss how the key notions of update semantics, such as information state and update, should be formalized in the light of cross-linguistic evidence.

The phenomena to be discussed include the following:
(i) presupposition
(ii) nominal anaphora in diverse linguistic systems (e.g. English pronouns, Kalaallisut obviation, and Chinese topic chaining)
(iii) indexicality
(iv) temporal reference with and without grammatical tense (e.g. in tense-based English and tenseless aspect-based Chinese)
(v) (not-)at-issue content and evidentiality.

Maria Bittner
Maria Bittner
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey – New Brunswick



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