Semantics 2


This course is a continuation of Semantics 1, and uses the foundation in compositional analysis and type theory developed there to explore several core issues, phenomena and open questions in the study of meaning in natural language: modality, the semantics of definite/indefinite descriptions and anaphora, dynamic aspects of meaning, and the semantics and pragmatics of questions.

Course requirements

Students who enroll in the course for credit will be required to do all the readings and participate in class discussions. Students will also be asked to provide summaries and critical assessments of three non-assigned readings (to include any subsections of the Portner book that we do not discuss in class); these will be due at the end of the fourth, sixth and ninth weeks.

Students will also be expected to write a 10-15 page research paper on some topic in semantics (not necessarily directly connected to the content of this course), which will be due on Thursday, June 12. You should consult with me on the topic by the end of the seventh week, and we will have short presentations of the projects during the tenth week.


UPDATE (21 April): For those interested in a second general resource on the issues we're discussing in this class (in addition to the Portner ms.), and one in particular that uses the same technical machinery, formalisms, and syntactic assumptions as Heim and Kratzer, check out Kai von Fintel and Irene Heim's lecture notes on intensional semantics.

Final paper due by 5pm, Thursday, June 12