Linguistics 575A: Quantification, Semantic Representations and the Syntax-Semantics Interface

Course Info

Instructor Info



Semantic representations, as used in computational linguistics, typically require that all nominal indices be bound by an appropriate quantifier. In some languages (including English), there is a syntactic position which corresponds nicely (specifier of NP, filled by determiners). Crosslinguistically, however, we find languages that rarely, or never, express quantification within the NP. In the strictly compositional framework assumed in the Grammar Matrix (and other implemented work on HPSG), this leads to a mismatch between syntax and semantics which is handled by unary rules introducing quantifiers.

In this seminar, we will explore these issues in depth, seeking to discover whether current standard semantic representations are appropriate crosslinguistically, what alternatives may exist, and the theoretical origins of the current state of affairs.

Note: To request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Student Services, 448 Schmitz, 206-543-8924 (V/TTY). If you have a letter from Disabled Student Services indicating that you have a disability which requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to the instructor so we can discuss the accommodations you might need in this class.


Schedule of Topics and Assignments (may be updated)

1/3 Introduction, organization
Szabó 2005, Partee 2004a  
1/10 Origins: Frege, logic Zalta 2006 (Pool), Pietroski 2006 (Preston), Sher 1996 (Preston)  
1/17 Origins: Montague Partee and Hendricks 1997 (McNeill), Westerståhl 2005 (Pool) KWLH: K and W due
1/24 Semantics of Determiners Keenan 1996 (Goss-Grubbs), Partee 2004b (Poulson)  
1/31 Critique of predicate calculus as NL semantics Ben-Yami 2004 (Part I) (McNeill)  
2/7 Critique of predicate calculus as NL semantics Ben-Yami 2004 (Part II; Part III if you're so inclined) (Drellishak) Term paper/project topic choice (1/2 page)
2/14 Representations in Computational Semantics: MRS (Pool, Preston), UDRT (McNeill, Poulson), CLLS (Drellishak, Goss-Grubbs) MRS: Copestake et al 2005
CLLS: Egg et al 2001
UDRT: Blackburn and Bos 1999, Vol 1 pp. 63-68, 70-74, 77-86, 91-92; Vol 2 pp. 1-16, 47-50, 53-55
(reading questions)
2/21 Quantifiers crosslinguistically Paree 1995 (Poulson), Haspelmath 1995 (McNeill), Bittner 1995 (McNeill) Term paper outlines/project specs due
2/28 Quantifiers crosslinguistically
Course evaluation
Evans 1995 (Drellishak), Vieira 1995 (Preston), Petronio 1995 (Preston), Baker 1995 (Preston)  
3/7 Quantifiers crosslinguistically Faltz 1995 (Pool), Bach 1995 (Pool), Jelinek 1995 (Goss-Grubbs) KWLH papers due
3/14     Final papers/projects due 5pm