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Continuations and Natural Language


Continuations and Natural Language

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).  Topics covered include a gradual, gentle introduction to a continuation-based grammar in the `tower' presentation; a continuation-based type-logical (i.e., substructural) grammar; and the techniques of parasitic scope and recursive scope.  In addition to working through the exercises from the book, students will use software to extend implemented grammars provided by the authors to develop and test their own new analyses of natural language phenomena.

Course Status: Closed

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First two-week Session


3:10 pm-5:00 pm
3:10 pm-5:00 pm



Students must be comfortable with lambda reduction.  A basic understanding of scope and generalized quantifiers will be helpful.