Postgraduate Course: Current Issues in Semantics and Pragmatics (MSc) (LASC11103)
|School||School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||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. Finally, we will dig into issues to do with the evolutionary origins of semantic phenomena.
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; presupposition and accommodation.
Event Semantics and Context: Argument structure and entailment; event theory, temporal anaphora; tense, aspect and Aktionsart.
An evolutionary perspective on semantic phenomena: what are the evolutionary origins of some semantic 'universals'? How can concepts from semantics improve evolutionary accounts of linguistic structure?
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)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
60% 3,000 word essay
||Written feedback on coursework. Advice and discussion session on essay.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- have a grounding in the use of logical tools in the investigation of linguistic semantics and pragmatics
- understand how theoretical arguments are constructed in semantic and pragmatic theory
- gain a detailed acquaintance with specific current topics in semantics and pragmatics
- gain sufficient knowledge of theoretical semantics to identify strengths and weaknesses of different theoretical approaches
|Cann, R., Kempson, R., & Gregoromichelaki, E. (2009). Semantics : An introduction to meaning in language (Cambridge textbooks in linguistics). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.|
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Course organiser||Dr Marieke Schouwstra
|Course secretary||Miss Toni Noble
Tel: (0131 6)51 3188