Introduction to Semantics

This course introduces the basic tools and concepts of compositional semantics: how to derive the meaning of complex expressions based on the meanings of their component parts. We will provide some basic training in the use of formal notations to represent meaning (set theory, lambda notation). At the same time, students will learn to identify some empirical phenomena that are worth of semantic description and explanation in several languages: the interpretation of quantifiers and their interaction with other scope-taking elements, negative polarity items, tense and aspect, and the interpretation of definite and indefinite determiners. Students are encouraged to give short presentations about any of the empirical phenomena presented in the course and the way they are expressed in their own languages.