〚LOGIC, LANGUAGE, & LEARNING LAB 〛
LIN 141: Semantics
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:40-3pm
Olson Hall 158
(By Appointment: Book Here)
or by email
Zhuang (Harvey) Qiu
What does Meaning mean?
What is Meaning? Is language illogical?, Formal approaches to Meaning, Taxonomy of Meaning
Textbook Ch.1 + 2.1 + 2.3 + 2.5
Propositions, Syntax and Semantics of Propositional Logic, Truth, Entailment, Logical Connectives,
sets, relations, functions
Individuals, Predicates, Relations, First-order Quantification, Syntax and Semantics of Predicate Logic
The Semantic Lego
Compositionality, Typed Lambda Calculus, Function Application
Textbook Ch.5 + 6.1 + 6.2
Quiz 4 + Argument Map 1
Adjectives and Quantifiers
Types of adjectives, Generalized Quantifiers
Textbook Ch.6.3 + 6.4 + 7
Ambiguity, Vagueness, Underspecificity, Context-sensitivity
Quiz 6 (Midterm)
Common Ground, Semantic vs. Pragmatic Presuppositions, Entailment Canceling Environments
Textbook Chapter 8
Meaning in Conversation
Gricean Typology of Meaning, Implicatures, Logic and Language, Rational Speech Act Models
Grice (1975): Logic and Conversation
Quiz 8 + Argument Map 2
Grice (1978): Further Notes on Logic and Conversation
locution, illocution, perlocution; Lying, Deception, Bald-faced Lying, Bullshitting
Searle (1968): Austin on Locutionary and Illocutionary Acts
Meibaur (2011): On Lying
(available in Canvas Files)
Inferring social meaning from language use; The Language of Science
Eckert (2012): Three Waves of Variation Study: The Emergence of Meaning in the Study of Sociolinguistic Variation
Textbook and Learning Tools
Invitation to Formal Semantics
, mainly for announcements and assignments.
Piazza (available as a tab on Canvas) for (possibly anonymous) questions and discussions among students.
Introduce the main topics in formal approaches to meaning
Practice basic semantic analysis and formal modeling
Show connections between topics in semantics and real world issues
Practice critical and scientific thinking
Argument Maps, Discussion Forum
Each week, post a question, a comment, or a response to someone else's question on the week's readings in Canvas Discussions section. 10 discussions (1 per week) each worth 1%
Two argument maps on the following two papers (each worth 10%, availabe on Canvas Files):
Arnold & Zuberbühler (2006): Semantic Combinations in Primate Calls.
Orvell, Kross, & Gelman (2017): How "you" makes meaning.
Take a look at
this introduction to argument maps
and how we use them in this class.
8 weekly quizzes on Canvas, 5% each. Questions come from the readings of the week and lecture materials. Each quiz has several question-types (covering a specific sub-topic of the week) and the exact questions in that question-type are randomly selected from a bank of questions. You have 10 attempts for each quiz. Your highest grade will be recorded.
Similar to weekly quizzes, except that questions are on the materials of weeks 1-5.
Similar to weekly quizzes and the midterm except that the questions are on all of the course content.
OR, alternatively, write a research paper (6 pages maximum). Students who choose this option should meet with Masoud to discuss their research topic and propose a timeline.
Quizzes can be submitted at any point during the quarter. Argument maps must be submitted when due (see Canvas), 3% of the grade earned will be deducted for each day the assignment is late, with a maximum penalty of 50%. All assignments must be turned in by the Friday before the exam week. This policy can be waived if lateness is due to medical reasons or other special circumstances.
Quizzes can be found in the Quizzes section and Argument Maps can be uploaded and submitted in the Assignments section on
Do not include your name or any identifying information in the assignments (argument maps).
If an answer is handwritten and cannot be determined due to illegibility, no points are assigned to that answer. In order to avoid grading biases, all grading is done either automatically or anonymously.
We use the following grading scale:
A+ = 100-97 A = 97-93, A- = 93-90, B+ = 90-87, B = 87-83, B- = 83-80, C+ = 80-77, C = 77-73, C- = 73-70, D+ = 70-67, D = 67-63, D- = 63-60, F = 60-0.
We follow the
UC Davis code of academic conduct
. You are permitted to work together on the argument maps but you must write up and submit your own maps. You are expected to do the quizzes individually.
Students who may need an academic accommodation based on the impact of a disability must initiate the request with
the UC Davis Student Disability Center
. Professional staff will evaluate the request, recommend reasonable accommodations, and prepare a letter of accommodation for the faculty. Students should contact the SDC as soon as possible since timely notice is needed to coordinate accommodations.
Addressing the Instructor
I prefer Masoud. No titles or last name needed. All pronouns are fine.
We believe that our class benefits enormously from you sharing your thoughts and questions. Your background, life experiences, knowledge, thoughts, and ideas make you unique, and our classroom diverse. This diversity of perspectives is the foundation of learning in a classroom. At a larger scale and within a scientific community, it is also a major contributor to scientific progress. Therefore, sharing your thoughts and questions can help us learn and build a wider, stronger community of scholars.
Some of you may worry that your classmate's asking questions and sharing ideas may disrupt the class progress. Judging when to ask a question or share an idea is tricky but also part of education. Instead of discouraging it, we would like to practice it together. Here is flowchart that you might find useful. Ultimately, we trust your judgments.
We genuinly believe that there are no "stupid" questions in a classroom. The point of going to a class is to learn together and questions are our best tool to achieve that. It is easy to show that your question will help us learn no matter what. Your question is either:
(1) not framed well; in which case you give us a chance to explain the topic better. Chances are we did not explain it well the first time and many of your classmates are wondering about it too.
(2) framed well and has an answer we know; in which case we can help you as well as your classmates who have the same question learn it too! You have also helped us consolidate our knowledge by explaining it again.
(3) framed well but has an answer we do not know; in which case we can find the answer together and your question has helped all of us learn!
(4) framed well and does not have an answer yet; in which case you found a research topic someone can start working on and benefit the field!
As you see, your question has helped our learning either way. So please ask!