Introduction to Dynamic Semantics

Advanced Core Training in Linguistics, University College London

Description



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 definites, indefinites , and pronouns. Time permitting, we’ll also discuss the dynamic approach to presuppositions.

Tentative course schedule (allowing for some slippage):

Background

I’ll assume a basic knowledge of set theory and first-order logic in this course. Elizabeth Coppock has put together a useful primer, which you can find online here.

Notes and Reference Material

Slides can be found here

All reference material can be found here. More here soon.