This seminar will take an in-depth look at current theories of conversational implicature. We will start out with a review of the classic Gricean approach to implicature and its refinements, paying close attention to the empirical and theoretical concerns that motivate it. Next we will look at contemporary alternatives which "grammaticize" implicature calculation by building it into the composition system and the facts that have motivated these approaches. We will then consider the neo-Gricean responses to these approaches. We will then take a close look at two case studies: free choice inferences involving modals and disjunction, and epistemic uncertainty inferences in sentences involving superlative modifiers and numerals.

Course requirements

Students who enroll in the course for credit will be required to turn in a research paper at the end of the quarter; you should consult with me on the topic by the end of the seventh week.

Registered students must also choose one of the required readings from each week and write a short (1-2 page) "reaction paper," which provides an overview of the article's central points: the main issue that it addresses, the core proposals, and the core arguments that are brought to bear to support the proposals.

Everyone (both registered students and auditors) is expected to do the required readings and participate in the class discussion.


NB: The following schedule is subject to change based on the interests and direction of the class, so please check for updates each week.