Semantics Research Seminar at UCL
This seminar is a PhD-level research seminar course on the intersection of natural language semantics and philosophy of language. It meets weekly during Term 2 at UCL. This seminar is supported by the LAHP Interdisciplinary and X-Institutional Training Fund.
The main target audience of the seminar is PhD students, as well as staff, interested in linguistics, philosophy of language and related areas who are based at the partner institutions of the London Arts & Humanities Partnership (LAHP), including the Associate Members (Queen Mary University of London and London School of Economics). It is also open to advanced MA students.
The field of linguistic or formal semantics aims to discover and model the way that grammatical properties of words and sentences, across languages, convey meaning. Philosophy of language has focused on foundational questions about the nature and properties of the meanings conveyed. While there have been important historical points of contact, increasingly the projects of these sub-disciplines are viewed as essentially intertwined, and are being carried out hand in hand. For example, top journals in both areas (e.g. Journal of Semantics, Semantics & Pragmatics on the one hand, Mind & Language, Journal of Philosophical Logic on the other), have editorial board members, and regularly publish work, from both disciplines. Notably, recent young hires in philosophy of language at top institutions in the UK (UCL, Oxford, Kings, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds, a.o.) and USA (UCLA, Princeton, Columbia, Chicago, a.o.) have received training in linguistics as part of their PhD studies. In most cases they were able to do so because of close interaction between departments of Linguistics and Philosophy at the institutions where they trained (MIT, UCLA, Rutgers, a.o.). We aim to establish a bridge between linguists and philosophers at the partner institutions of the LAHP.
Topic: PresuppositionIn morphology and syntax/semantics, presupposition plays a central role in the analysis of diverse grammatical phenomena, from morphological features like gender and definiteness to the syntax/semantics of clausal complementation. In analytic philosophy and formal semantics, both in seminal early work and in a recent revival, presupposition has been approached from a foundational perspective, raising questions about the nature of semantic representations and related ones about the division of labor between semantics/pragmatics. These threads of research have not been conducted in isolation, but, recent insights from the two may not be fully integrated. We will aim to survey these in tandem.
Term 2, 2018, Friday at 14:00-16:00 in Room 201, Chanlder House, UCL (2 Wakefield St. London WC1N 1PF; GoogleMaps)
|1||12 January 2018||Introduction to Presupposition||Yasu Sudo|
|2||19 January 2018||Satisfaction Theory||Yasu Sudo|
|3||26 January 2018||Trivalency||Daniel Rothschild|
|4||2 February 2018||The Proviso Problem||Matt Mandelkern (Oxford)|
|5||9 February 2018||Presuppositions of Quantified Sentences||Yasu Sudo|
|16 February 2018||Reading Week (no lecture)|
|6||23 February 2018||Strike day (no lecture)|
|7||2 March 2018||E-type anaphora and presupposition projection||Daniel Rothschild|
|8||9 March 2018||Presupposition triggering||Nathan Klinedinst|
|9||16 March 2018||Strike day (no lecture)|
|10||23 March 2018||Student presentations (see below for details)|
Lecture 1: Introduction to Presupposition
- Beaver & Geurts (2014) Presupposition. In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. [link]
- Chapters 5 of Kadmon (1990), Formal Pragmatics.
Lecture 2: Satisfaction Theory
- Heim (1983) On the projection problem for presuppositions. In Proceedings of WCCFL 2, pp. 114-125.
- Chapters 6 of Kadmon (1990), Formal Pragmatics.
- Rothschild (2011) Explaining presupposition projection with dynamic semantics. Semantics & Pragmatics, 4(3): 1-43. [link]
Lecture 3: Trivalent Theory
- Main reading: Chapter 2 "Multivalence and Partiality" of Beaver (2001) Presupposition and Assertion in Dynamic Semantics.
- Stanley (1979) A truth conditional formulation of Karttunen's account of presupposition. Synthese, 40(2): 301-316.
- Fox (2008) Two short notes on Schlenker's theory of presupposition projection. Theoretical Linguistic, 34(3): 237-252.
Lecture 4: Proviso Problem
- Main reading 1: Geurts (1996) Local satifcation guaranteed: A presupposition theory and its problems. Linguistics & Philosophy, 19: 259-294.
- Main reading 2: Mandelkern & Rothschild (2018) Independence day? Ms. [link]
- Mandelkern (2016) A note on the architecture of presupposition. Semantics and Pragmatics, 9(13) [link]
- Mandelkern (2016) Dissatisfaction theory. In Proceedings of SALT 26. [link]
Lecture 5: Quantification and presupposition projection
- Chemla (2009) Presuppositions of quantified sentences: experimental data. Natural Language Semantics, 17(4): 299-340.
Lecture 7: E-type anaphora and presupposition projection
- Rothschild & Mandelkern (2018) Projection from situations.
- Heim (1990) E-type pronouns and doneky anaphora. Linguistics and Philosophy, 13(2): 137-177.
- Büring (2004) Crossover situations. Natural Language Semantics, 12(1): 23-62.
Lecture 8: Presupposition triggering
- Abrusán (2011) Predicting the presuppositions of soft triggers. Linguistics and Philosophy,34(6): 491-535.
- Optional reading: Abrusán (2016) Presupposition cancellation: explaining the 'soft–hard' trigger distinction. Natural Language Semantics, 24(2): 165-202.
- Christabel Cane, "How is the problem of cancellability best solved?"
- Rodanthi Christofaki, "Are expressives presuppositions, or something different altogether?"
- Greg Williamson, "Anti-presuppositions & Maximize Presupposition!"
- Ruoying Zhao, "Optional tense, antipresuppsoition, and semantic markedness"
Information for Students
If you are a student in one of the partner institutions of the LAHP and interested in attending the seminar, please contact the instructors.
If you would like to take this course for a credit, you have to write an essay at the end of the course.
Participants are encouraged to joing the Slack group for this course. You can not only find general announcements for the course, but also post questions and other discussions. Please contact Yasu Sudo, if you wish to be added.