Formal Semantics of Natural Language
Course Description: The course will give a concise and tightly-structured introduction to compositional model-theoretic semantics in the Montague tradition, with ample discussion and new directions coming from recent research. Concentrating on the underlying methodological principles, I will aim to attract students' attention to the scientific value of describing intricate semantic phenomena using elegant and rigorously-defined mathematical techniques. The course is intended for students who don't necessarily have deep knowledge in logic or linguistics, but have some basic mathematical or general scientific background. The foundational concepts and techniques that will be covered include: entailment as a rich empirical domain, ambiguity, compositionality, direct model-theoretic interpretation, types and model structure, generalized quantifiers and abstract categorial grammar. Motivations and examples will draw on recent research of coordination, quantifier scope, reciprocity, intensionality and long-distance dependencies. Further remarks about diverse problems involving plurality, spatial expressions, conceptual semantics and experimental pragmatics will be made as time permits. At the end of the course students will have acquired basic formal notions of natural language semantics, which will allow them to approach much of the literature in this field, and many of the NASSLLI courses this year.