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  • Approaches to Morphosemantics

    Andrew Koontz-Garboden

    To what extent do the morphological and syntactic composition of words and phrases reflect the composition of their meanings? Do crosslinguistic differences in morphosyntax reflect differences in the primitives of semantic composition? Is there a uniform underlying syntactic representation for certain kinds of meanings across classes of lexeme introducing them and across languages? This class explores two contrasting views about the morphosyntax/semantics interface which make different predictions about the answers to such questions:

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  • Computational Lexical Semantics

    Dan Jurafsky

    Survey of computational models for representing and processing lexical semantics. Topics include semantic role labeling, online dictionaries and thesauri, word sense disambiguation, distributional (vector) semantics, and sentiment analysis.

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  • Constructionist Approaches

    Adele Goldberg

    This course emphasizes the commonalities among words, idioms and more abstract syntactic patterns in that all are learned pairings of form and function, at varying levels of complexity and abstraction. This emphasis allows us to draw many parallels between language and other cognitive processes such as categorization, parallels that in turn raise the issue of whether language may emerge from a combination of general cognitive abilities, without requiring a unique language faculty.

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  • Continuations and Natural Language

    Chris Barker

    This course will make a case that continuations, a concept from the theory of programming languages, are an indispensable element  in any complete account of natural language meaning.  The continuation of an expression is a portion of its surrounding context.  The main applications of continuations to be considered include scope, binding, crossover, reconstruction, negative polarity licensing, the compositional semantics of the adjective "same", and sluicing.   The course will follow the 2014 Barker and Shan book, `Continuations and natural language' (Oxford).

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  • Empirical Applications of Type-Logical Categorial Grammar

    Yusuke Kubota, Robert Levine

    The goal of this course is to familiarize students with Type-Logical Categorial Grammar (TLCG) as a framework that provides a new perspective on the syntax/semantics interface of natural language. While TLCG has so far been mostly studied in its connection to mathematical logic, our course emphasizes its value to the working linguist as a framework for characterizing linguistic generalizations, especially in empirical domains that have been widely regarded as problematic or even intractable in the mainstream linguistic literature, including both transformational and nontransformational appr

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  • Event Encoding in a Crosslinguistic Perspective

    Beth Levin

    Talmy's work on the lexicalization of motion events draws attention to significant differences in the strategies languages use to describe such events.

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  • Introduction to Semantics

    Chris Kennedy

    This course provides an introduction to the goals and methods of formal semantics, and to some of the core empirical phenomena and questions that drive contemporary research in this area. Topics to be addressed include patterns of inference (entailment vs. implicature vs. presupposition), compositionality and the syntax-semantics interface, ambiguity, intensionality and subjectivity. Topics will be explored through lectures, readings (available online) and problem sets.

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  • Lexical Semantics

    John Beavers

    The goal of this course is to explore theories of the lexical semantic underpinnings of grammar, focusing on (a) how word meanings can be classified and decomposed, (b) how subcomponents of lexical meaning interact to form more complex meanings, (c) how lexical meaning determines and is determined by the word's syntactic and morphology properties, and (d) how languages vary in the relationship of lexical meaning and grammar.  The semantic and grammatical properties of verbs, nouns, and adjectives will be especially central, with an emphasis on the truth conditional basis for the link betwee

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  • Linguistic Applications of Mereology

    Lucas Champollion

    Expressions like 'John and Mary' or 'the water in my cup' intuitively involve reference to collections of individuals or substances. The parthood relation between these collections and their components is not modeled in standard formal semantics of natural language, but it takes central stage in what is known as algebraic or mereological semantics.

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  • Processing Discourse Coherence

    Hannah Rohde

    The nature of a coherent discourse is that the utterances within it do not appear together arbitrarily but, rather, relate to each other in meaningful ways.  The establishment of intersentential coherence relations is hence fundamental to language use and language understanding. This course will introduce students to ongoing research in experimental pragmatics that analyzes the reasoning and inferences that are brought to bear in the establishment of intersentential coherence relations.

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  • Semantic Fieldwork

    Judith Tonhauser

    This course introduces participants to the methodology of collecting semantic/pragmatic data in collaboration with theoretically untrained native speaker consultants.

    Data that may inform semantic/pragmatic theorizing are typically quite complex, consisting of one or more grammatical sentences that are uttered in an appropriately designed context, and a native speaker’s judgment about the acceptability or the truth of the sentence(s) uttered in that context.

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  • Semantic Variation in Nominal Expressions

    Amy Rose Deal

    Both the semantics and the syntax of nouns and complex nominals appear to vary to a significant degree across languages. Loci of variation include articles and determiners; number marking, classifiers and measure constructions; and indexical elements such as personal pronouns. This course asks: To what extent is variation in these areas the result of differences in the semantics of otherwise parallel lexical items? To what extent does it reflect variation at the syntax/semantics interface, or in the lexicon? (How) does the variation affect the range of meanings that can be conveyed?

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  • The Relationship between Social Meaning and Formal Semantics/Pragmatics

    E. Allyn Smith

    This course takes a holistic perspective on what constitutes meaning in natural language, looking at semantic, pragmatic and social factors. We examine various empirical phenomena that have been studied through different lenses across subfields, such as honorifics, deictics, and sentence-final rising intonation in an attempt to see whether existing research from one perspective may advance theories in another.

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  • The Syntax and Semantics of Discourse-Oriented Features: The grammar of speaker and addressee

    Miok Pak, Paul Portner, Raffaella Zanuttini

    Our course will focus on three areas where features of discourse context interface with syntactic representation:

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  • Topics in Syntax and Semantics of Slavic

    David Pesetsky, Sergei Tatevosov

    The last decade or two has witnessed an explosion of interesting investigations of the syntax and semantics of the Slavic languages. This class will explore several interconnected semantic and syntactic phenomena of this language family. The course aims to provide an overview of several live topics, and to spur interest in investigation the many intriguing but unsolved puzzles that these languages present. Topics to discussed will include verb-stem morphology and verbal aspect; nominal case and the internal structure of the Slavic noun phrase; clause structure and scrambling.

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