Formal Semantics of Natural Language

Yoad Winter (Utrecht University, Netherlands)

The course will introduce classical formal semantics of natural language, focusing on new directions and recent research. The first part of the course will cover semantic foundations including entailment, ambiguity, compositionality, types, models and basic lambda calculus. The second part will cover more advanced topics from recent work on presuppositions, plurals and events, focusing on empirical phenomena of foundational importance to compositionality: presupposition projection, distributive quantification, and modification across categories. The course is intended for students with basic mathematical and scientific background, but does not presuppose specific knowledge in logic or theoretical linguistics. For students who are new to formal semantics, the course will serve as a general overview which emphasizes the scientific value of analyzing semantic phenomena using elegant and rigorously defined mathematical methods. For students with previous background, the course will be useful as a pointer to current research of major importance for the foundations of formal semantics.