510 Intro to Semantics (4 units)Spring 2008
MWF 10:10 - 11:00 - Machmer W-21
We speak, sign, or write to convey meaning, and we usually understand the speech we hear, the signs we see, or the texts we read. Speaking, signing, writing, listening, and reading takes place in a rich and ever-changing non-linguistic context. In this course, we will look at the complexity of linguistic utterances with an analytic mind. We will try to unravel the different cognitive abilities that allow us to deduce their meaning. The course has a theoretical and an applied part. The theoretical part introduces you to the basic ideas of formal semantics and pragmatics. In the applied part, we will do semantic fieldwork, and may make connections with legal reasoning, language acquisition, communication disorders, philosophy of language, literary theory, or education. This class is for you if you are interested in linguistic meaning, have an analytic mind, enjoy theory building, and are curious about how highly abstract theories connect with everyday situations.