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Course Description and Course Requirements

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: go to the page Materials. I will make a course CD with copies for everyone in March.

III. Structure of Course and Requirements

Every week there will be one lecture and one seminar. There will be five homework assignments, one every two or three 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.

Requirements: Attendance, assigned reading, and written homework assignments. One short class presentation in April, with a handout (= Assignment #4).

Requirements to receive a 5: Very good attendance, at least 80% of lectures and seminars. Assignments completed on time and in a satisfactory manner; no assignments missing.

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

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. Short description of the course

Course announcement in Russian 

The course will begin with a brief introduction to formal semantics, including a review of basic logic and an introduction to the lambda calculus and its applications in semantics. Then we will study some themes which are central in formal semantic analyses of noun phrases and their parts. No previous familiarity with formal semantics will be presupposed.

Some of the topics to be discussed include:

  • the principle of compositionality,
  • the concept of meaning as truth-conditions,
  • introduction to lambdas and their usefulness for semantics,
  • types of noun phrase meanings (referential, quantificational, predicational, generic, anaphoric, demonstrative, ...)
  • "strong" and "weak" NPs, referentiality, incorporation; existential sentences and tests for 'weakness',
  • modifiers, arguments, and specifiers: syntax and semantics
  • restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses: semantics and pragmatics
  • quantifiers, scope, variable binding; semantic typology,
  • "anti-quantifiers": syntax and semantics of distributive expressions like Korean -ssik (Choe),
  • lexical semantics of relational and non-relational nouns; genitives, possessives, and have.

The course is intended principally for 3rd and 4th year students of OTiPL; others are welcome as well.


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