The course gives a concise introduction to compositional modeltheoretic semantics in the Montague tradition, with new directions coming from recent research. Concentrating on the underlying methodological principles, the course aims to attract students' attention to the scientific value of describing intricate semantic phenomena using elegant and rigorously-defined mathematical techniques.
At the end of the course, you will have acquired basic formal notions of natural language semantics, and its interface with other sub-disciplines of cognitive science. This will allow you to approach much of the literature in this field, and hopefully follow more advanced courses and engage in active research in the field.
The course is intended for students who don't necessarily have deep knowledge in logic or linguistics, but have basic mathematical or general scientific background. The foundational material includes: entailment, ambiguity, compositionality, direct interpretation, types and model structure, boolean operators, generalized quantifiers and abstract categorial grammar. Standard motivations and examples will draw on recent research of coordination, plurality, quantifier scope, spatial expressions, and long-distance dependencies.
A special characteristic of this course is the class on spatial expressions, which is normally not part of the standard semantics curriculum, and is based on new research. This class will enhance students’ awareness to recent work in formal semantics, and its interface with other branches of cognitive science (psycholinguistics, AI).
Tutorials: Sunday 9:30-10, 2-:30
Course Materials, Elements of Formal Semantics textbook (chs. 1-3)