A Course in Semantics

by Altshuler, Parsons, Schwarzschild

ISBN: 9780262042772 | Copyright 2019

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An introductory text in linguistic semantics, uniquely balancing empirical coverage and formalism with development of intuition and methodology.

This introductory textbook in linguistic semantics for undergraduates features a unique balance between empirical coverage and formalism on the one hand and development of intuition and methodology on the other. It will equip students to form intuitions about a set of data, explain how well an analysis of the data accords with their intuitions, and extend the analysis or seek an alternative. No prior knowledge of linguistics is required. After mastering the material, students will be able to tackle some of the most difficult questions in the field even if they have never taken a linguistics course before.

After introducing such concepts as truth conditions and compositionality, the book presents a basic symbolic logic with negation, conjunction, and generalized quantifiers, to serve as the basis for translation throughout the book. It then develops a detailed compositional semantics, covering quantification (scope and binding), adverbial modification, relative clauses, event semantics, tense and aspect, as well as pragmatic phenomena, notably deictic pronouns and narrative progression.

A Course in Semantics offers a large and diverse set of exercises, interspersed throughout the text; those labeled “Important practice and looking ahead” prepare students for material to come; those labeled “Thinking about ” invite students to think beyond the content of the book.

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Contents (pg. v)
Preface (pg. ix)
Tips for the Instructor (pg. xi)
Sample Schedule (pg. xv)
Acknowledgments (pg. xvii)
1: Introduction (pg. 1)
1.1: Syntax and Semantics (pg. 1)
1.2: Semantic Rules and Grammar (pg. 7)
1.3: Truth Conditions (pg. 7)
1.4: Entailment and Synonymy (pg. 12)
1.5: Set Theory (pg. 17)
1.6: Lexicons (pg. 21)
2: Symbolic Logic (pg. 31)
2.1: Atomic Sentences and Their Parts (pg. 31)
2.2: Connectives (pg. 45)
2.3: Quantifiers (pg. 49)
2.3.1: Existential Quantifier (pg. 52)
2.3.2: Universal Quantifier (pg. 56)
2.3.3: Free Variables, Undefinedness, and Wellformedness (pg. 59)
2.3.4: More Quantifiers (pg. 62)
2.4: Predicate Conjunction (pg. 64)
2.5: The Rules of SL (pg. 68)
2.6: Truth Values, Truth Conditions, Extensions, Languages, Grammars (pg. 70)
3: Sentences and Determiner Phrases (pg. 73)
3.1: Syntax (pg. 73)
3.2: Direct and Indirect Interpretation (pg. 75)
3.3: Quantificational Determiner Phrases (pg. 80)
3.3.1: Quantifier Jargon (pg. 91)
3.3.2: Negation and Scope (pg. 92)
3.3.3: Constraints on Quantifier Raising (pg. 97)
3.4: Prepositional Phrases, Adjectives, and Adverbs (pg. 100)
3.5: Relative Clauses (pg. 108)
3.5.1: Syntax of Restrictive Relative Clauses (pg. 109)
3.5.2: Defining the λ Operator (pg. 111)
3.5.3: Translating Relative Clauses Using the λ Operator (pg. 113)
3.6: Coordination and Narrative Progression (pg. 115)
3.7: Pronouns (pg. 123)
3.7.1: Pronoun Indexing (pg. 125)
3.7.2: Context Lexicon (pg. 128)
3.8: Semantics and Pragmatics (pg. 130)
3.8.1: Pragmatics (pg. 130)
3.8.2: Truth Conditions (pg. 136)
3.9: Chapter Summary (pg. 138)
3.10: The Grammar (pg. 140)
4: Events and States (pg. 143)
4.1: Events and Thematic Roles (pg. 143)
4.2: Event Phrase (pg. 149)
4.3: Thematic Uniqueness (pg. 156)
4.4: Summary of Event Semantic Foundation (pg. 157)
4.5: States (pg. 158)
4.6: Adverbial Modifiers (pg. 162)
4.7: Chapter Summary (pg. 169)
4.8: The Grammar (pg. 170)
5: Tense and Aspect (pg. 173)
5.1: Tense (pg. 173)
5.1.1: Meanings for Tenses (pg. 173)
5.1.2: Tenses Treated as Pronouns (pg. 177)
5.1.3: Translating Tense Phrases (pg. 180)
5.2: Aspect: The Progressive (pg. 190)
5.2.1: The Meaning of the Progressive (pg. 190)
5.2.2: Translating Progressive Be (pg. 194)
5.2.3: Different Kinds of Events: Aspectual Classes (pg. 199)
5.3: Aspect: The Perfect (pg. 202)
5.3.1: The Meaning of the Perfect (pg. 202)
5.3.2: Varieties of the Perfect (pg. 208)
5.4: The Grammar (pg. 209)
5.5: Chapter Summary (pg. 216)
Notes (pg. 219)
Index (pg. 223)
Daniel Altshuler

Daniel Altshuler

Daniel Altshuler is Assistant Professor of Linguistics in the School of Cognitive Science at Hampshire College.

Terence Parsons

Terence Parsons

Terence Parsons is Professor Emeritus and Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Roger Schwarzschild

Roger Schwarzschild

Roger Schwarzschild is Professor of Linguistics in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT.

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