Semantics 4 & Seminar in Semantics, Winter 2014

LING 665 (Semantics 4) / LING 765 (Seminar in Semantics) will focus this year on the semantics of modality.

The class will consist of two parts. The first part will provide students with a gentle hands-on introduction to the classic analysis of modal auxiliaries and conditionals developed by Angelika Kratzer. We will start by surveying the limits of an extensional semantics of the type encountered in Semantics 3 and will then progressively introduce some basic tools to capture the meaning of modals and conditionals. In this part, we will familiarize ourselves with the analysis of modals as restricted quantifiers over possible worlds, the ranking of worlds in the domain of quantification, and the interaction between if-clauses and modals.

The second part of the course will survey some more recent developments in the semantics of modals. This part will focus on the interaction of modality and aspect and the semantic import of the syntactic distinction between `high’ (epistemic and some deontic) and `low’ (root) modals, as investigated in recent work by Valentine Hacquard. We will also survey recent work on the evidential component of epistemic modals by von Fintel and Gillies, and, time permitting, we will study two recent proposals by von Fintel and Iatridou on the interpretation of weak necessity modals and sufficiency constructions.


LING 665: homework assignments, class presentation, final paper.

LING 765 (Pass/Fail): homework assignments, class presentation.

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