LIN 241: Advanced Semantics

Instructor Lecture Day/Time Lecture Hall Email Hangout Hours Office
Masoud Jasbi Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:00 - 11:30 AM Kerr Hall 273 Thrusday 2:30-3pm Kerr Hall 279


Week Month Date Topic Content Readings & Videos Assignments
1 Jan 4 What is meaning? truth, implications, entailments, sets, functions, relations Textbook Ch.1 + 2
Videos: Entailment + Taxonomy of Meaning
Ch.1+2 Exercises
2 11 Propositional and Predicate Logics Propositions, Boolean Connectives, Predication, Quantification Textbook Ch.3 + 4 Ch.3+4 Exercises
3 18 Typed Lambda Calculus Types, Lambda Abstraction, Beta Reduction Textbook Ch.5 Ch.5 Exercises
4 25 Function Application Compositional Rules, Quantifier Types, Generalized Quantifiers Textbook Ch.6
Video: Quantificational Determiners
Ch.6 Exercises
5 Feb 1 Beyond Function Application Adjectives, Type-Shifting, Relative-Clauses, Quantifiers in object position, Pronouns Textbook Ch.7
Video: Adjectives and Composition
Ch.7 Exercises
Midterm Abstract
6 8 Presupposition and Dynamic Semantics Definiteness, Definedness Conditions, Projection, File Change Semantics, Discourse Representation Theory Textbook Ch.8+9 Ch.8+9 Exercises
7 15 Plurality and Coordination Coordination, Mereology, Plural Definite Descriptions, Cumulative Readings Textbook Ch.10 Ch.10 Exercises
Peer Review of Abstracts
8 22 Tense and Aspect Aktionsart, Indexicality, Priorean tense logic, Past and Future Textbook Ch.12 Ch.12 Exercises
9 Mar 1 Modality Opacity, Intentionality, Hyper-intentionality, Necessity and Possibility Textbook Ch.13 Ch.13 Exercises
10 8 Gricean Pragmatics and Scalar Implicatures Conversational Maxims, Conversational Implicatures, Conventional Implicatures, Scalar Implicatures Horn (2004) Imiplicature
Video: Conversational Implicature
Final Paper

Textbook and Learning Tools

Textbook Invitation to Formal Semantics Tools Canvas for announcements, assignment submissions and grades
By Elizabeth Coppock (BU) and Lucas Champollion (NYU)

Course Objectives

Objective Course Component
1 Cover the basic topics in formal semantics and pragmatics Readings, Lectures
2 Critically assess the course content Class discussion and Canvas Discussion Forum
3 Practice basic semantic analysis and formal modeling Exercises
4 Practice conducting research in semantics Midterm Abstract, Peer-Review, Final Paper


Critical Thinking 10% Class Discussion 10% Presence in class, asking questions, answering questions, and engaging with class discussion and materials.
Analytic Skills 45% Exercises 45% 9 weekly comprehension questions and exercises from the textbook each worth 5%
Research Skills 50%
Midterm Abstract 15% A two page abstract modeled as a submission to a conference like SALT, ELM, or S&B. Take a look at sample abstracts from SALT 25 here.
Peer-review 10% Write a 1-page peer-review for the two midterm abstracts assigned to you. Your peer-review should first briefly summarize the main argument of the abstract, then mention its strengths, followed by major issues and weaknesses, and finally minor issues such as typos or numerical errors. Take a look at this PLOS blog post on how to outline your review and this ACL guide for writing a good peer-review.
Final Paper 25% Revise and resubmit your abstract based on the feedback you received.
Late Submission Due dates for exercises and discussions are posted on Cavnas but you can submit them whenever you want before exam week. The midterm abstract, peer-reviews, and the final paper have hard deadlines on Canvas and must be submitted on time. This policy can be waived if lateness is due to medical reasons or other special circumstances.
Submission Format Submit your assignments in Canvas anonymously and in PDF format. Typed assignments should be Times New Roman (12pt), 1 inch margins, 1.5 line spacing. Handwritten assignments must be legible. Do not include your name or any identifying information in the assignment.
Grading 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.
Integrity We follow the UC Davis code of academic conduct. You are permitted to work together on the assignments. However, you must write up and submit your own unique assignments.
Accessibility If you need an academic accommodation based on the impact of a disability, you should initiate the request with the UC Davis Student Disability Center. Professional staff will evaluate your request, recommend reasonable accommodations, and prepare a letter of accommodation for me. Please contact the SDC as soon as possible since timely notice is needed to coordinate accommodations.
Addressing the Instructor I prefer Masoud. No title or last name needed. All pronouns are fine.
Participation 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.
Questions 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!