MGU: Formal Semantics and Current Issues in Semantics

Barbara H. Partee, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Visiting Fulbright Professor, RGGU and MGU, Jan - June 2005

Tuesdays, 15 Feb – 31 May (Lecture 4:55-6:15pm, Seminar 6:30-7:50pm)

Объявление по-русски

Plans for May 31 lecture here.

APRIL 23, 2005: First Annual Workshop: Formal Semantics in Moscow.  Look for information about the workshop and other informally organized semantics activity in Moscow at the site . My report on the workshop is here. Workshop photos by Philip Dudchuk are here.


phone: (095) 757-0108




LINK TO RGGU COURSE  'Formal Semantics'      (Everyone in either course is welcome to visit the other any time there are topics of interest!)


I. The languages of the course:

Lectures, handouts, and text mostly in English. Seminar sessions and other discussion in Russian and/or English. Homework may be done in Russian.

II. Reading materials: Handouts (mostly in English) and some xeroxed articles (some in English, some in Russian) will be given to all enrolled students. As much material as possible will be made available for download from the web.

III. Structure of Course and Requirements: Every week there will be one lecture and one seminar. There will be five homework assignments, approximately every two weeks. The seminars will be an opportunity to ask questions, to discuss examples and issues from the lectures, to get help with homework assignments, and to discuss the results of past homework assignments and readings. A kursovaya rabota can take the place of two or three homework assignments. Highly recommended (and worth at least two assignments): write a real abstract for the FDSL conference in Potsdam or some other relevant conference; this will involve (i) giving me preliminary drafts and revising in the light of comments; (ii) providing a draft (i.e. informal form) of the arguments that are summarized in the abstract.

Requirements: Attendance, assigned reading, and written homework assignments.

Requirements to receive a 5: Very good attendance, at least 80% of lectures and seminars. Written homework assignments completed on time and in a satisfactory manner. Not more than three assignments late; no assignments missing. Note May 14: All homeworks received by May 24 will count as "on time".

Requirements to receive a 4: Good attendance, at least 60% of lectures and seminars. Most written homework assignments completed on time and in a satisfactory manner. Not more than four assignments late; not more than two assignments missing. See note above.

Requirements for zachet:  Same as requirements for a 4.

If more than two assignments are missing, you will not receive a zachet or a grade higher than a 3 unless you do some extra work of a high quality; see me if you wish to negotiate alternative assignments in place of some written homework.

IV. Outline of the course. (Subject to change)   "Linked" handouts available for download in PDF format.

Lecture 1. Feb.15 Basic ideas of formal semantics. Compositionality. The relation between semantics and syntax. Example: Syntax and model-theoretic semantics of predicate logic. Homework #0: Anketa. Practice homework: to do together in Seminar. Reading: (1)  R. Larson (1995) Semantics. Chapter 12 in L. Gleitman and M.Liberman, eds. An Invitation to Cognitive Science, Vol I: Language, pp 361-380. (2) Partee, Barbara H. 1999. "Semantics" in R.A. Wilson and F.C. Keil, eds., The MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. 739-742.

Seminar [same day, after lecture; not listed below.]

Lecture 2. Feb. 22. Lambda abstraction, Noun Phrase semantics, and a Fragment of English. Ambiguity and logical form. Quantifier scope. Generalized quantifiers (beginning), lexicon and grammar (beginning). Fragment 1. Basic principles of compositional interpretation. Type-driven interpretation. Rules of relative clause formation, Quantifying In, conjunction, and phrasal negation.  Homework #1, Lambda exercises. Due March 15.

Lecture 3. March 1. Noun phrases and generalized quantifiers.  Function-argument structure, syntactic categories, and semantic types. NPs as Generalized Quantifiers, continued.  Weak and strong determiners and existential sentences. Tests for weak determiners in Russian.  Reading: (1) R. Larson (1995) Semantics. (from Lecture 1. Read it again!) (2): Partee, Barbara H., Alice ter Meulen, and Robert E. Wall. 1990. Mathematical Methods in Linguistics. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Chapter 14: Generalized Quantifiers.

No class March 8 (holiday).

Lecture 4. March 15. Semantic Typology of Indefinites I. What can be found in other languages analogous to the Russian ni-, -libo, and -nibud' words and English any? Approaches to the semantic descriptions of such items. Basics of the Kamp-Heim theory of indefinites. Introduction to Haspelmath's "semantic map" approach to the typology of indefinites, and Tatevosov's extensions to include universal quantifier words. The role of words like English even and Russian i, ni in 'strengthening' negative indefinites. Readings: (i) Selections from Martin Haspelmath's book Indefinite Pronouns, (ii) Selections from Tatevosov 2002  Semantika sostavljajushchix imennoj gruppy: kvantornye slova, (iii) As much as possible of Chapter 2 of Heim, Irene R. 1982, The Semantics of Definite and Indefinite Noun Phrases, UMass. Ph.D. dissertation. [PDF file  (9.5 MB!)] [djvu file (755k) ] (iv) alternative shorter Heim: Heim, Irene.1983. File change semantics and the familiarity theory of definiteness (v) Optional: Farkas, Donka. 2002. Varieties of Indefinites. In Proceedings of SALT 12. Ithaca, NY: CLC Publications; (vi) optional: Kamp, Hans. 1981. A theory of truth and semantic representation.

**Seminar March 15: Guest presentation by Igor Yanovich, a practice presentation of his talk for SALT 15 (Semantics and Linguistic Theory) at UCLA, March 25: "Choice-functional series of indefinite pronouns and Hamblin semantics", about Russian -to, -nibud', and 'bare'-series indefinite pronouns.

Lecture 5. March 22. Formal semantics and the lexicon. Meaning postulates and the lexicon. Meaning postulates as a formalization of the content of semantic components of lexical meaning. Meaning postulates and the integration of formal semantics and Moscow school lexical semantics. Mel’chuk, Apresjan, and Moscow school lexical semantics. Borschev and Partee on the potential use of meaning postulates to combine the advantages of the explicitness of formal semantics with the "natural" metalanguage of Moscow school lexical semantics. Natural language metaphysics (Bach) and naivnaja kartina mira (Apresjan). Complete vs. partial reducibility of lexical meaning. Some properties of adjective meanings. Reading: (i) Partee (1995) Lexical semantics and compositionality. Chapter 11 in L. Gleitman and M.Liberman, eds. An Invitation to Cognitive Science, Vol I: Language. (D. Osherson, general editor), pp. 311-360; (ii) Partee, Barbara H. in press. Privative adjectives: subsective plus coercion: . Homework #2: Russian adjectives. Due April 19.   

[Link to Adjective Homework Results 1996-2004  (future) ]

Lecture 6. March 29.  Semantic Typology of Indefinites II. We will continue discussion of the topics in Lecture 4, considering some of the semantic properties and principles that may help to explain the typological generalizations described by Haspelmath. We'll mainly discuss specific and non-specific indefinites, with a little bit about free choice indefinites. Readings: (i) Haspelmath, Chapter 5, [go to and choose between a very large pdf file (25+ Mb) and a less high-resolution djvu file]; (ii) Kratzer, Angelika, and Shimoyama, Junko. 2002. Indeterminate pronouns: the view from Japanese. In The Proceedings of the Third Tokyo Conference on Psycholinguistics, ed. Yukio Otsu, 1-25. Tokyo: Hituzi Syobo. (iii) Yanovich, Igor, Handout for "Choice-functional series of indefinite pronouns and Hamblin semantics", to be presented at SALT 15 March 25.  Homework #3: due April 26.

**Seminar March 29: Guest presentation by Yura Bronnikov, a practice presentation of his talk for FASL 14 (Formal Approaches to Slavic Linguistics) at Princeton, May 6-8, “The Russian vsyakiy”. In our usual seminar room, 957, at 18:30.

No class April 5, April 12

Lecture 7. April 19. Semantic Typology of Indefinites III. -- A continuation of Lecture 6, with the same handout (and possible addenda).

APRIL 23: Workshop: (Formal) Semantics in Moscow.  Preliminary information (First call for papers) here. My report on the workshop is here. Workshop photos by Philip Dudchuk are here. Workshop Site: .

Lecture 8. April 26. Quantification and interactions with Negation. Negative polarity items. Quantificational approaches to Genitive of Negation. "Downward monotone" functions and the distribution of "negative polarity" items (any, ever, at all; Russian vovse). Discussion of Asya Pereltsvaig's and other proposals about the distribution of Russian ni-, -libo, and -nibud' words. Readings: (1) (review from Lecture 1): R. Larson (1995) Semantics. (2) Pereltsvaig, Asya. 2000. Monotonicity-based vs. veridicality-based approaches to negative polarity: evidence from Russian. In FASL 8: The Philadelphia Meeting 1999, 328-346. (3) Partee and Borschev 2002.  Genitive of negation and scope of negation in Russian existential sentences. In FASL 10, ed. Jindrich Toman, 181-200. (4) Adam Werle (2002) A typology of negative indefinites. CLS 38 Parasession on Negation and Polarity. (5) Optional, a classic: Ladusaw, William. 1980. On the notion "affective" in the analysis of negative polarity items. Journal of Linguistic Research 1:1-16. Reprinted in Portner and Partee (2002), pp. 457-470.  Further suggested readings: Padučeva, E.V. 1974. O semantike sintaksisa: materialy k transformacionnoj grammatike russkogo jazyka [On the Semantics of Syntax: Materials toward the Transformational Grammar of Russian]. Moscow: Nauka. (: pp 108-111) ; Padučeva, E.V. 1985. Vyskazyvanie i ego sootnesennost' s dejstvitel'nost'ju (The Utterance and its Correspondence with Reality). Moscow: Nauka. (216-219); Larson, Richard. 1995. Semantics. In An Invitation to Cognitive Science. Vol 1: Language, eds. Lila Gleitman and Mark Liberman, 361-380. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. (handed out in Week 1); Pereltsvaig, Asya. 2000. Monotonicity-based vs. veridicality-based approaches to negative polarity: evidence from Russian. In Formal Approaches to Slavic Linguistics: The Philadelphia Meeting 1999, eds. Tracy Holloway King and Irina A. Sekerina, 328-346. Ann Arbor: Michigan Slavic Publications. (handed out today and on your CD) ; Pereltsvaig, Asya. 2004. Negative Polarity Items in Russian and the 'Bagel Problem'. In Negation in Slavic, eds. Adam Przepiorkowski and Sue Brown. Bloomington: Slavica Publishers. (newer, and not discussed here; on your CD, also online on her website: ) ; Tatevosov, Sergej G. 2002. Semantika sostavljajushchix imennoj gruppy: kvantornye slova (The Semantics of the Constituents of the NP: Quantifier Words). Moscow: IMLI RAN. (on your CD; most relevant for NPIs – 131-143 and 156-163) ; Partee, Barbara H., and Borschev, Vladimir. 2002. Genitive of negation and scope of negation in Russian existential sentences. In Annual Workshop on Formal Approaches to Slavic Linguistics: the Second Ann Arbor Meeting 2001 (FASL 10), ed. Jindrich Toman, 181-200. Ann Arbor: Michigan Slavic Publications. (available online: ) ; Werle, Adam. 2001. A typology of negative indefinites. Ms. UMass, Amherst. ; Werle, Adam. to appear. A typology of negative indefinites. In CLS 38, Parasession on Negation and Polarity. Chicago: Chicago Linguistic Society. (both Werle papers are on the class CD, also online: ;   ) ; Giannakidou, Anastasia. 1999. Affective dependencies. Linguistics and Philosophy 22:367-421. (on your CD) ; Ladusaw, William. 1980. On the notion "affective" in the analysis of negative polarity items. Journal of Linguistic Research 1:1-16. Reprinted in Portner and Partee (2002), pp. 457-470. (classic; on your CD).  Homework #4. Due May 10.

**Seminar April 26: "Guest" presentation (tentative) by Yakov Testelets, Igor Yanovich, Elena Paducheva, Vladimir Borschev, and Barbara Partee, a preview presentation of their talk for FASL 14 (Formal Approaches to Slavic Linguistics) at Princeton, May 6-8, "Sentential and constituent negation in Russian BE-sentences revisited". At 18:30 in our usual seminar room, 957.

No class May 3

Note: Topics in May still open. Choices include those listed below plus (i) Semantics and pragmatics of diathesis shift, (ii) Russian genitive of negation, (iii) any other topics that you see on the course schedules from formal semantics at RGGU in 2005, 2004, or 2003.

May 10 Class is ***MOVED TO SATURDAY, MAY 14 AT 15:20 *** (no "seminar".)

 Lecture 9. May 14.  Intensionality, Referential Opacity, Property-Type NPs . Possible-worlds semantics for modality and intensionality. Classic approaches, recent revisions. Readings: (i) Zimmermann, Ede. 1993. On the proper treatment of opacity in certain verbs. Natural Language Semantics 1:149-179. (ii) Kratzer, Angelika. 1981. The notional category of modality. In Words, Worlds, and Contexts. New Approaches to Word Semantics, eds. H.-J. Eikmeyer and H. Rieser, 38-74. Berlin: de Gruyter. Reprinted in Portner and Partee, eds., 2002, 289-323. (available on your CD) (iii) Portner, Paul. 1997. The Semantics of Mood, Complementation, and Conversational Force. Natural Language Semantics 5:167-212.  (iv) Partee, Barbara H. (in press) Weak noun phrases: semantics and syntax. To appear in the proceedings of Dialog 2005, Moscow.   Additional suggested readings: (i) Kiparsky, Paul, and Kiparsky, Carol. 1970. Fact. In Progress in Linguistics, eds. Manfred Bierwisch and K. Heidolph, 143-173. The Hague: Mouton.; (ii) Partee, Barbara H. 1974. Opacity and scope. In Semantics and Philosophy, eds. M. Munitz and P. Unger, 81-101. New York: New York University Press. Reprinted in Peter Ludlow, ed., Readings in the Philosophy of Language, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1997, pp. 833-853. (on your CD) (iii) von Fintel, Kai. 2001. Counterfactuals in a Dynamic Context. In Ken Hale: A Life in Language, ed. Michael Kenstowicz, 123–152. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (iv) von Fintel, Kai and Irene Heim (in progress). Draft chapters of a new textbook on Intensionality. Chapters 1-3. (on your CD); (v) Lewis, David. 1978. Truth in Fiction. American Philosophical Quarterly 15:37-46. Reprinted in David Lewis, Philosophical Papers. Translated into Russian by A.D. Šmelev. (on your CD); (vi) Dayal, Veneeta. 2004. Number marking and (in)definiteness in kind terms. Linguistics and Philosophy 27:393–450. (on your CD) Homework # 5 – topic ‘open’ (your choice). Due May 24.

 Lecture 10. May 17.  Relative clauses and other modifiers, restrictive and non-restrictive. Truth-conditional meaning and conventional implicature. Correlative relative clauses (Hindi and other languages). Free relatives. Internally-headed relative clauses. Issues in the semantics of relative clauses: (a) the semantics of the "gap" -- bound variable or a copy of the head NP? (or ...?); (b) indicative vs. subjunctive relative clauses - their interpretation and their "licensing"; (c) issues raised by Lander and Rudnitskaya in their FSIM presentation. Other issues -- suggestions welcome. Readings: (Not sure yet which will be primary, besides the first one, which you have.) (i) Partee (1995) Lexical semantics and compositionality (from Lecture 5); (ii) Rodman, R. 1976. Scope phenomena, "movement transformations", and relative clauses. In Montague Grammar, ed. B.H. Partee, 165-176. New York: Academic Press.; (iii) Potts, Christopher. 2002. The syntax and semantics of As-parentheticals. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 20:623-689. (iv) selections from Potts, Christopher. 2005. The Logic of Conventional Implicatures: Oxford Studies in Theoretical Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (v) Dayal, Veneeta. 1995. Quantification in correlatives. In Quantification in Natural Languages, eds. Emmon Bach, Eloise Jelinek, Angelika Kratzer and Barbara H. Partee, 179-206. Dordrecht: Kluwer. (vi) Yury Lander and Elena Rudnitskaya, Institute of Oriental Studies,  “Referelativization”.- abstract and handout from FSIM.  Homework # 5 – topic ‘open’ (your choice). Due May 24.

**NOTE: Since I am late in correcting the homework you have given me, you may also be late in giving me homework -- all homework received by May 24 will count as "on time" and will be returned on or before May 31. Late homework received by May 31 will be accepted as "late homework", but I do not promise to read it or return it. (No homework accepted for credit after May 31.)

 Lecture 11. May 24  Formal semantics and formal pragmatics. Presuppositions, conversational implicatures, conventional implicatures. Illustrations involving negation and definite descriptions, inclusive and exclusive or, restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses, “expressive” modifiers. Readings: (1) extract from: Kadmon, Nirit. 2001. Formal Pragmatics: Semantics, Pragmatics, Presupposition, and Focus. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. (2) Potts, Christopher. 2002. The syntax and semantics of As-parentheticals. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 20:623-689. (3) Potts, Christopher, and Kawahara, Shigeto. 2004. Japanese honorifics as emotive definite descriptions. In Proceedings of SALT 14, eds. Kazuha Watanabe and Robert B. Young. Ithaca, NY: CLC Publications.  (4) Potts, Christopher. (Potts to appear). Conventional implicatures, a distinguished class of meanings. In The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Interfaces, eds. G. Ramchand and C. Reiss. Oxford: Oxford University Press.  

 Lecture 12. May 31.  The Event Argument, Algebra of events (Bach, Link, Krifka), aspect and quantification (Filip, Krifka).  Evidence for the existence of an event argument in at least non-stative sentences. The role of the event argument in linguistic structures. The role of the event argument in lexical semantics and in semantic composition. Events and situations. Stage-level and individual-level predicates. Impersonal sentences as properties of situations. Thetic and categorial sentences: predicating of a situation vs. predicating of the subject. Readings: (1) Selection from Landman, Fred. 2000. Events and Plurality: The Jerusalem Lectures: Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy v.76. Dordrecht: Kluwer. (2) Selections from Filip, Hana. 1999. Aspect, Eventuality Types and Nominal Reference. New York: Garland. (3) Partee, Barbara H. 1997. Vid i interpretacija imennyx grupp ("Aspect and the interpretation of Noun Phrases"). In Trudy Aspektologicheskogo Seminara Filologicheskogo Fakul'teta MGU im. Lomonosova, Vol. 3, ed. Marina Chertkova, 121-140. Moscow: Moscow University Press. (4) Partee, Barbara H. 1999. Nominal and temporal semantic structure: aspect and quantification. In Prague Linguistics Circle Papers, v.3, eds. E. Hajicová, T. Hoskovec, O. Les"ka, P. Sgall and Z. Skoumalová, 91-108. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Pub. Co..

SEMINAR May 31: Guest presentation by Yura Bronnikov: "Continuations, a compositional semantics on top of surface syntax".

Yura will speak about the following articles: (1)  C. Barker, Continuations and the nature of quantification (2002?) ; (2)  C. Shan, Delimited continuations in natural language (2004) and (3) maybe a little about C. Shan, A continuation semantics for interrogatives that accounts for Baker's ambiguity (2001?) =  "06 Questions"/Shan01.pdf on the CD, or

Yura adds:  The reasons I like this approach over typical type-shifting are that a) the analysis of quantifiers does not depend on their position and b) I have a rather vague idea (I am not even sure I will be ready to talk about it) that continuations can be used to describe sensitivity to context (such as in NPIs or -nibud' series) -- a continuation is exactly a representation for context. (Shan talks about NPIs in his article, but he does it differently.).

All late homeworks due May 31 (last class). All grades, zachety, ad hoc certificates to be done on May 31 before or during "seminar."

Last updated 27 May 2005 by Barbara Partee