Prof. Kai von Fintel
Prof. Irene Heim
Dictionary definition of "semantics." (Image courtesy of Daniel Bersak.)
This course is the second of the three parts of our graduate introduction to semantics. The others are 24.970 "Introduction to Semantics" and 24.954
"Pragmatics in Linguistic Theory". Like the other courses, this one is not meant as an overview of the field and its current developments. Our aim is to help you develop the ability for semantic analysis, and we think that exploring a few topics in detail together with hands-on practical work is more effective than offering a bird's-eye view of everything. Once you have gained some experience in doing semantic analysis, reading around in the many recent handbooks and in current issues of major journals and attending our seminars and colloquia will give you all you need to prosper. Because we want to focus, we need to make difficult choices as to which topics to cover. We tend to rotate topics from year to year to keep the course fresh. Eventually, we hope to have a text book that would allow you to work through some additional topics not covered in a particular instantiation of the course. Until then, our apologies. This time around, we will work on a number of topics involving intensionality: (1) modality, conditionals, scope in modal contexts, (2) tense, events, time adverbials, (3) questions.