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 & 5: presupposition
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.
All reference material can be found here. More here soon.
- Chierchia (1995)
- Heim (1982), chapter 3
- Groenendijk & Stokhof (1991)
- Beaver (2001)
Beaver, David I. 2001. Presupposition and assertion in dynamic semantics. (Studies in Logic, Language, and Information). Stanford, California: CSLI Publications ; FoLLI.
Chierchia, Gennaro. 1995. Dynamics of meaning: Anaphora, presupposition, and the theory of grammar. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Groenendijk, Jeroen & Martin Stokhof. 1991. Dynamic predicate logic. Linguistics and Philosophy 14(1). 39–100. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25001418 (28 February, 2018).
Heim, Irene Roswitha. 1982. The semantics of definite and indefinite noun phrases. PhD thesis.