392A The Dream of a Perfect Language (3 units)

Spring 2010


MWF 1:25 - 2:15 - Hasbrouck Lab Add 109


Angelika Kratzer []


For centuries, philosophers, novelists, and politicians have dreamed about artificial languages without the flaws of natural languages. A perfectly constructed language was hoped to open up a world of mutual understanding and clear thinking. Most recently, linguists have claimed that there are optimal design solutions in all real languages. In this interdisciplinary seminar, we will confront the design of invented languages with that of their real world counterparts. We will look at properties of artificial languages and compare them with visions about real languages as reflected in the most recent work of Noam Chomsky. The artificial languages investigated might include early attempts to construct an algebra of concepts, Esperanto, the Predicate Calculus, and poetic language.


Ling 201, or Phil 110, or permission of instructor