Adam Albright & William Snyder
Massachusetts Institute of Technology & University of Connecticut
Learners acquiring linguistic grammars face numerous challenges: they must find a grammar that is consistent with the input data, while dealing with indeterminacy and ambiguity (data that is consistent with multiple grammars), and also noise and contradictions (data that is not consistent with any grammar). Acquisition data provides insight into how children tackle these challenges, giving us evidence about their hypothesis space, their initial assumptions or biases, and their learning trajectory. In this course, we compare different approaches to classic problems in learnability of language, and consider how their predictions compare to child data. Focusing primarily on data from syntax, morphology, and phonology, we introduce approaches to learning in a range of frameworks, including rule-based, constraint-based, and parameter-based models. We introduce ways of defining learning objectives and biases (economy, accuracy, likelihood, substantive defaults), and survey a selection of approaches to evaluating or enforcing them, including Minimum Description Length, the Tolerance Principle, biased constraint demotion, Bayesian inference, and triggered learning. Throughout, we ask whether different approaches make distinct predictions that can be tested with acquisition data. This course does not presuppose any prior background in learnability or acquisition. A prior introduction to syntax and/or phonology is helpful, but not necessary.
Elena Anagnostopoulou & Heidi Harley
University of Crete & University of Arizona
It is well known that there are robust regularities in the syntactic realization of arguments which reveal a tight connection between argument realization and verb meaning. This course will investigate which aspects of verbal meaning are relevant to argument realization, how they are grammatically encoded, how much is contained in the meaning of individual words and how much comes from the syntactic configuration in which they occur, and what is the nature of the algorithms that determine the mapping between what is traditionally called 'lexicon' and syntax. We will focus on theories that decompose verbal meaning into a core lexical meaning encoded in roots which combine with primitive predicates that define event structures (see Levin & Rappaport Hovav 2005 for an overview of the literature) and will discuss how argument alternations are dealt with in theories which syntactically decompose the verb into a root combining with several functional layers (Larson 1988, Hale & Keyser 1993, 2002, Pesetsky 1995, Harley 1995, Kratzer 1996, Marantz 1997, Pylkkänen 2002, Borer 2005, Folli & Harley 2005, Ramchand 2008, Bruening 2014, Alexiadou, Anagnostopoulou & Schäfer 2015, Harley & Miyagawa 2017, among many others). The empirical phenomena addressed in the course will be drawn from causatives, anticausatives, passives, adjectival passives, psych verbs, restrictions on idioms, datives, applicatives and resultatives, as they are manifested across different languages. This is an advanced seminar which presupposes familiarity with theoretical syntax.
Rajesh Bhatt & Winfried Lechner
University of Massachusetts & National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
This intermediate course in semantics will cover phenomena such as plurals, same/different, and the mass/count distinction. It will introduce formal techniques and concepts (e.g. choice functions, skolem functions, Link's star operator, covers, and type shifting) that have been useful in the analysis of these phenomena.
Prerequisites: Participants are expected to be familiar with basic set theory, boolean logic and compositional interpretation of syntactic trees of the sort used in introductory semantics classes or textbooks (such as Heim & Kratzer or the 2017/2018 CreteLing Introduction to Semantics class).
Cleo Condoravdi & Ashwini Deo & Paul Kiparsky
Stanford University & Ohio State University & Stanford University
This course investigates semantic change and grammaticalization phenomena, with a view to introducing students to the methodology of historical linguistics, to theories of language change, and to the use of diachronic data in building a theoretical understanding of language structure and use. We will explore semantic change in lexical and functional categories, including tense, mood, aspect, negation, and case, focusing on recurrent patterns of unidirectional and cyclical changes and their explanation. The phenomena studied over the course will come from English and other Germanic languages, as well as from Greek, Romance, and Indo-Aryan languages. While no background is historical linguistics is required, some basic background in semantics and/or syntax is recommended.
This course will give an introduction to the study of meaning, which comprises both semantics (the study of 'literal' meaning, more or less) and pragmatics (the study of meaning in context). The course will provide a curated sample of phenomena that are studied in semantic theory, and provide students with key diagnostic tools and analytical concepts. The lectures will cover the following topics: 1. Types of implication relations; 2. Reference and quantification; 3. Negative polarity items; 4. Vagueness vs. ambiguity vs. imprecision; 5. Mass vs. count; 6. Aspect; 7. Tense and deixis; 8. Expressives and social meaning. No prerequisites.
Kai von Fintel
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
This intermediate to advanced class will review what is known about exclusive markers like only and its cousins (in English and cross-linguistically). Topics include dimensions of meaning, mirativity, NPI licensing, the relation to exhaustification, the role of exclusives in expressions of sufficiency, the interaction with bare plurals and bare conditionals.
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
This course will discuss brain/language relations. It will begin by addressing two questions:
a. Is linguistic theory relevant to neuroscience?
b. Are data produced by neuroscience-based methods, and brain-related constraints, relevant to linguistic theory?
To answer both questions in the affirmative, concrete neurolinguistic arguments need to be given, for which background is necessary. The course will therefore begin with a quick but fairly thorough review of current methods in neuroanatomy, as well as of central experimental and analytic methods for the study of the neural basis of linguistic ability. A presentation of prominent results regarding the brain bases for semantic and logical knowledge will follow. The case on which most emphasis will be put will be the neural bases for the computation of downward entailingness. The course will conclude with some puzzles and open problems, as well as demonstrations of clinical applications of the methods in the field.
Prerequisites: Basic knowledge of syntax and propositional logic, some knowledge of semantics.
University of Edinburgh
This class is an introduction to a central part of the human capacity for language: the ability to combine meaningful elements into larger hierarchical structures. We'll look at the evidence for such hierarchical structure, and then explore some simple and not-so-simple ways in which this structure affects what are possible and impossible sentences. We'll consider questions of where syntactic structures "come from", and the extent to which they vary from language to language (or don't). Along the way we'll be discussing some of the central discoveries (exciting!) and open questions (even more exciting!) in the field of syntax. This is an introductory class. It presupposes minimal background knowledge beyond the terminology for categories such as noun, verb, adjective, etc; as much as possible the level/speed will be adapted to whatever proves appropriate for the registered participants.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
In this class we will focus on a small number of topics, among which will minimally be binding theory and verbal morphosyntax. We will discuss what the empirical challenges are in each domain, and how proposals have developed over time to deal with an increasing body of knowledge about the relevant crosslinguistic patterns.
Prerequisites: At least one semester of syntax. Complete familiarity with drawing and understanding syntactic trees. Basic notions like c-command and government.
Jaklin Kornfilt & Sergei Tatevosov
Syracuse University & Lomonosov Moscow State University
This class will explore several interrelated semantic and syntactic phenomena of the Turkic language family. Topics will include, but won't be limited to: Relative clauses in Turkic; differences between RCs and noun - complement clause constructions; the "Stuttering Prohibition" in Turkic and its syntactic effects; reflexes of the Keenan - Comrie accessibility hierarchy in Turkic RCs; what arguments can be "dropped", and which ones cannot; when resumptive pronouns are possible, obligatory, or impossible; investigating whether there are long-distance-bound reflexives in these languages; post-predicate constituents and constraints on those; clausal nominalizations; the verbal systems of some Turkic languages, including grammatical and lexical aspect, temporal reference and evidentiality; argument structure and event structure, including mostly causatives, passives and anti-causatives, event plurality; denominal derivation; complex predicates/ serial verb constructions. The languages to be addressed: Turkish, Tatar and Karachay-Balkar in detail; possibly also Chuvash, Altai, Kyrgyz, and some Sakha. Students should have some basic knowledge of syntax and semantics. No background in Turkic languages is required.
Roumi Pancheva & Paul Portner
University of Southern California & Georgetown University
Linguists working on a variety of topics in syntax and semantics have recently been led to propose that the speaker and addressee are represented in the syntax and enter the compositional semantics in a way different from classical theories of indexicality.We will discuss several such proposals, with the goals of understanding what they have in common and how they differ and seeing what the best such theory going forward will look like.The empirical domains we will discuss include imperatives, evidentials, logophoricity, politeness marking, and interpretable person agreement.
Prerequisites: Solid foundation at the graduate level in syntax and formal semantics.
Pritty Patel-Grosz & Philippe Schlenker
University of Oslo & Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris
In this introductory level class, we will offer an introduction to Super Linguistics (using the term 'super' in its original Latinate meaning 'beyond'), which we define as the application of formal linguistic methodology (and methodology inspired by linguistics) to diverse non-standard objects (beyond standard linguistic objects of study). Out of the various topics that have already been explored under the Super Linguistics umbrella (including the syntax/semantics of gestures, music, dance, non-verbal pictorial representations, animal calls, and animal gestures), we zoom in on speech with gestures (co-speech, pro-speech and post-speech gestures) and narrative dance. In doing so, we connect these newly established objects of study to more traditional objects of study, in particular, formal semantic modeling of iconicity in both spoken and signed natural languages. A particularly revealing part of this discussion is the fact that the entire typology of linguistic inferences found in words (at-issue inferences, implicatures, presuppositions, supplements, expressives, etc.) can also be replicated with gestures and visual animations.
This class is introductory in that it does not presuppose familiarity with super linguistic topics (e.g., iconicity in sign language, gestures, dance). However, introductory level knowledge in syntax, semantics and pragmatics will be presupposed.
University of Maryland
This course is about heritage languages and their speakers-individuals who are raised speaking a minority language at home but are exposed to a dominant, majority language outside the home. This dominant language becomes their main language in adolescence and adulthood. The minority or heritage language, despite being first in the order of acquisition, ends up being differentially represented, processed and used as compared to monolinguals of the same language. The study of heritage languages provides linguists with a novel tool for understanding how a grammar can be acquired under minimal input: what constitutes bare grammar, what constitutes sufficient if minimal input, and what are the areas of strength and vulnerability in language? A large body of research examines heritage languages from the standpoint of social or processing perspective. In this course we will focus on the morphological and syntactic properties of heritage languages, asking the following questions: How do linguistic properties of heritage languages differ from linguistic properties of their fully acquired counterparts? Can the differences be predicted? What do these differences tell us about the universal principles of language structure, the relationship between language and thought (linguistic relativity), and the nature of language acquisition? The course presupposes knowledge of basic-level syntax.
University of British Columbia
This course is an introduction to phonological analysis. We'll focus on ways that sounds are represented in human language, how they are hierarchically structured, and how sound patterns are accounted for. We will consider patterns from many different languages, examining patterns of both distribution and alternation, and looking at phenomena such as assimilation, dissimilation, metathesis, stress and reduplication. We will look at what is special about these sorts of phenomena and how linguists approach their treatment. The focus will be on gaining practice in data analysis, with exposure to both rule-based and constraint-based frameworks. The course is introductory in nature.
Metrical systems such as stress and poetic meter are characterized by rhythm (alternating prominence), hierarchical structure (culminativity and degrees of prominence), demarcation of domains, and sensitivity to prosodic weight. This intermediate phonology course focuses on how these sometimes conflicting desiderata play out formally as constraints in stress systems and metrical verse, and what limits are in place on the typology. The first week treats rhythm and weight in stress (mostly word-level, but with some forays into phrasal prosody) and the second week continues with the same issues in the realm of meter and song. Throughout, the survey touches on relevant topics in prosodic phonology, including the mora, feet and/or grids, and prosodic words. Familiarity with Optimality Theory is helpful but not required.
The title says it all. The aim is to come to a deeper understanding of how philosophers think of the foundational questions of linguistics, with an eye towards fostering better cooperation between the fields. The course is based on a textbook called Philosophy of Language co-written with Rich Thomason published recently in the Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics series. We will cover most of Part 1 (Philosophy of Semantics) in the first week and most of Part 2 (Philosophy of Pragmatics) in the second. This is an intermediate level class - it presupposes that students have already taken one or two graduate level semantics courses. No background in philosophy is assumed.