Semantics:

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Semantics: Handout 1

Course Description

Yılmaz Kılıçaslan

October 01, 2009

Prerequisites

Background knowledge on phrase-structure syntax and set theory.

Objectives

The course in Formal Semantics has two main objectives:

1.

to get acquainted with the basic ideas and principles of natural language semantics; and

2.

to get depth of understanding in formal semantic theories such as Montague

Semantics.

Syllabus

The course begins with a broad overview of fundamental ideas and concepts of semantics. We go on to establish a logical framework, before turning our attention to the theories of semantics. We cover:

Introduction to fundamentals of natural language semantics

Truth-conditional approach to semantics

The notion of truth relative to a model

Possible worlds in semantics

Propositional logic

First-order predicate logic

Higher-order type-theoretic languages

Tense and modal operators

Montague’s intensional logic

Montague’s semantics (Proper Treatment of Quantification)

Situation semantics

Connecting Syntax and Semantics

Schedule

The contents of lectures are scheduled as shown in the following table:

WEEK

1

2

3

10

11

12

7

8

9

4

5

6

TOPIC

Introduction

Propositional Logic

Analysis of propositions into predicates and constituents

First-Order Predicate Logic

Higher-order type-theoretic languages

Tense and modal operators

Montague’s intensional logic

Proper Treatment of Quantification (Montague’s Semantics)

Proper Treatment of Quantification (Montague’s Semantics) (Cont.)

Situation Semantics

Situation Semantics (Cont.)

Discussion

Intellectual Skills Development

Obviously, the topics we will primarily cover in the course do not constitute the whole field of semantics. Thus, students are encouraged to develop a broader view on the semantics of natural languages by doing reading in other areas relevant to semantics. Part of this reading activity will be oriented by assignments.

Activities

The course consists of four hours lectures each week. Special sessions will be devoted at relevant points during the course to student-centered activities such as presentations. Below are some (possible) topics of presentation:

Theories of Truth (e.g. Correspondence Theory), Paraconsistent Logic, Eco-Logic,

Fuzzy Logic, Dynamic Predicate Logic, Lexical Semantics, Cognitive Semantics,

File Change Semantics, Discourse Representation Theory (DRT),

Semantics of Focus, Subject-Predicate Relations

Study Materials

There is no set text for the course. Handouts and relevant papers will be made available via the web.

Also, Gamut (1991) and Dowty et al (1981) are suitable textbooks as an introduction to logic and Montague semantics, respectively.

References

Dowty D. R., Wall R. E. and Peters S. (1981) Introduction to Montague Semantics.

Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Gamut, L.T.F. (1991) Introduction to Logic: Logic, Language, and Meaning (Volume 1).

Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

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