Lecturer: Patrick D. Elliott
Room: G15, Chandler House
This course will provide an introduction to the study of linguistic meaning through the lens of dynamic semantics — an approach to semantics developed primarily during the 80s by Irene Heim and Hans Kamp. The central claim of dynamic semantics is that the meaning of a sentence consists of a set of instructions for updating the common ground. As such, dynamic semantics emphasises the flow of information over the course of a discourse, as opposed to concentrating only the meaning of a sentence taken in isolation. Starting from some basic building blocks, we’ll put together a version of dynamic semantics, and use it to analyse the behaviour of indefinites (“a dog”), definites (“the cat”), and pronouns (“they/”them”/”she”/”her” etc.). Time permitting, we’ll also discuss the dynamic approach to presuppositions.
Tentative course schedule:
- session 1:possible worlds and updates
- session 2: discourse referents
- session 3: donkey anaphora
- session 4: presupposition
- session 5: presupposition
I’ll assume a basic knowledge of set theory and first-order logic in this course. Elizabeth Coppock and put together a useful primer, which you can find online here.