Undergraduate Course: Current Issues in Semantics and Pragmatics (LASC10069)
|School||School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||The course provides an introduction to formal theories of semantics and pragmatics, with reference to the cognitive plausibility of those theories. This is done by considering current important issues in the subject that have given rise to controversy and debate.
Providing testable and accurate accounts of semantic phenomena require the use of tools from philosophical logic to break out of the circular trap of using a natural (human) language to explain the properties of the same or a different natural language. In this course, basic tools of logic are introduced and explained (predicate logic, the lambda calculus, model theory and natural deduction). Using these tools, classic problems in interpretation are explored such as quantification, reference and modality, before moving on to recent issues surrounding event structure, discourse and context dependence.
The course is divided into four main sections:
- Representation and Interpretation: the nature of meaning; deductive and interpretative
semantics; predicate logic; type theory; the lambda calculus.
- Reference and Quantification in Natural Languages: Proper names; indexicals; the limitations of traditional quantifiers; generalised quantifiers; plurals and the limitations of GQ theory; semantic approaches to pronominal anaphora; discourse referents and their representation; definites and indefinites; presupposition and accommodation.
- Event Semantics and Context: Argument structure and entailment; event theory, temporal anaphora; ellipsis; tense, aspect and Aktionsart; adverbial adjuncts; modality and opacity.
- Syntax and Semantics: Representation in linguistics; syntax as procedures for constructing meanings; Dynamic Syntax.
The course is NOT a course in logic but how linguists can use logical tools to explore difficult issues in interpreting the expressions of natural languages.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
|| Students MUST have passed:
LEL2A: Linguistic Theory and the Structure of English (LASC08017)
||Other requirements|| Students studying on BA HSS programmes MUST seek permission from the course organiser before choosing to take this course.
Information for Visiting Students
|Pre-requisites||Visiting students should have at least 3 Linguistics/Language Sciences courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2017/18, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 27,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Hours & Minutes
|Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)||Current Issues in Semantics and Pragmatics (LASC10069)||2:00|
| To be able to read current primary literature in semantics and pragmatics; to formulate and evaluate analyses of linguistic data in the light of theoretical proposals; to reason critically; to identify and solve problems; to independently formulate and test hypotheses; and to compare and evaluate competing hypotheses and theories.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Keywords||linguistics; semantics; pragmatics; logic
|Course organiser||Prof Ronnie Cann
Tel: (0131 6)51 1839
|Course secretary||Miss Emma Nelson
Tel: (0131 6)50 9870