Ling 106: Knowledge of Meaning
Sever Hall 103
[Book a Slot!]
+ by Email
Fri, 10:30-11:30am [No booking needed.]
Sever 210 (Sever 213 after week 4)
Tue, 3-4pm [No Booking Needed.]
Sever Hall 101
Mezzanine, Boylston Hall
The Formal Study of Meaning
Is language illogical?, Formal approaches to Meaning, Taxonomy of Meaning
Textbook Ch. 1
Propositions, Syntax and Semantics of Propositional Logic, Truth, Entailment, Logical Connectives
Textbook Ch. 2
Sets, Functions, and Relations
First Order Meaning
Individuals, Predicates, Relations, First-order Quantification, Syntax and Semantics of Predicate Logic
Textbook Ch. 3
Textbook Ch. 4
First Order Meaning
The Semantic Lego
Compositionality, Typed Lambda Calculus, Function Application
Textbook Ch. 5
Typed Lambda Calculus
intransitive, transitive, ditransitives, predicative adjectives, modifier adjectives, types of adjectives
Keenan 1996: The Semantics of Determiners (on canvas files)
Quantification in Language
Meaning as Vectors
Guest Lecture: Ethan Wilcox
Common Ground, Semantic vs. Pragmatic Presuppositions, Entailment Canceling Environments, Holes, Plugs, Filters
Textbook Chapter 6
Karttunen (1973): Presuppositions of Compound Sentences
Meaning in Conversation
Gricean Typology of Meaning, Rationality, Implicatures, Logic and Language
Grice (1975): Logic and Conversation
Grice (1978): Further Notes on Logic and Conversation
Rational Speech Act Models (Gunnar Lund)
Frank & Goodman (2012): Predicting Pragmatic Reasoning in Language Games
Argument Map 1
Basic Probability Theory
locution, illocution, and perlocution (Gunnar Lund)
Searle (1968): Austin on Locutionary and Illocutionary Acts
(Michael Henry Tessler)
Yoon, Tessler, Goodman, & Frank (Submitted)
Intonation and Meaning
Argument Map 2
Truth Conditions & Science
Empirical vs. Normative Claims, Assessing the Truth Conditions of Empirical Claims, Argument Visualization
Acton (2019): Pragmatics and the social life of the English definite article
Veronica Boyce on production and interpretation of gendered pronouns, Masoud on Social Meaning
Deception, Bald-faced Lying, Bullshitting
Meibaur (2011): On Lying
Textbook and Learning Tools
Formal Semantics Boot Camp
, mainly for announcements and assignments.
for (possibly anonymous) questions, comments, and discussions. Search for LING 106 Knowledge of Meaning when you sign in and enroll as a student.
Introduce the main topics in formal approaches to meaning
Practice basic semantic analysis and formal modeling
Assignments, Midterm, Final Exam
Introduce the connections of topics in formal semantics/pragmatics to real world issues
Readings, (Guest) Lectures
Practice critical and scientific thinking
Argument Maps, Reading Reactions
25 lectures, 0.3% for each lecture.
Starting on week 2, post short questions or comments about the week's readings on Canvas (Discussion Section). Your comment can also be in response to a classmate's question.
Two argument maps of the following papers: 1. Frank & Goodman (2012) [7%] 2. Acton (2019) [9%]. Take a look at
this introduction to argument maps and how we use them in this class.
8 total, 5% each. Due on Mondays. Details and submission in Canvas.
Take-home exam. 5 Questions Total. Details and submission in Canvas.
Take-home exam. 10 Questions Total. Details and submission in Canvas.
OR, a research paper (6-10 pages). Students who choose this option should meet with Masoud to discuss their research topic and propose a timeline.
Each unexcused absence results in 0.3% deduction. An absence is excused if it is due to one of the following: personal/family emergency, health issues (physical or mental), or Religious Obligations. Ask your resident dean to contact the instructor in such cases.
Late assignments will be graded as though they were not late, but then 5% of the grade earned will be deducted for each day the assignment is late, with a maximum penalty of 50%. All late work must be turned in by the Friday before your final exam. This policy can be waived if lateness is due to medical reasons or other special circumstances. If you you believe such special circumstances apply to you, please put us in contact with your resident dean so that we can discuss the appropriate extension for you.
Submit your assignments using
. Files should be in PDF. Typed assignments should use Times New Roman (12pt), 1 inch margins, 1.5 line spacing. Handwritten assignments must follow similar margins and spacing and must be legible. If the answer cannot be determined due to illegibility, no points are assigned to that answer. Do not include your name or any identifying information in the assignment. In order to avoid grading biases, assignments are graded anonymously.
We use the following grading scale:
A = 100-94, A- = 94-90, B+ = 90-87, B = 87-84, B- = 84-80, C+ = 78-77, C = 77-74, C- = 74-70, D+ = 70-67, D = 67-64, D- = 64-60, F = 60-0.
For any submission, if you believe there have been grading mistakes, you can ask for re-grading. The assignment will be graded by a new grader and the second grade will be recorded.
We follow the
Academic Integrity Policy
, which discusses collaboration on homework and expectations for reading responses and exams. You are permitted to work together on the assignments (but not for midterm and the final exam). However, you must write up and submit your own unique assignment.
Students who may need an academic accommodation based on the impact of a disability must initiate the request with
the Accessible Education Office (AEO)
. Professional staff will evaluate the request with required documentation, recommend reasonable accommodations, and prepare a letter for the faculty. Students should contact the AEO as soon as possible since timely notice is needed to coordinate accommodations.
Addressing the Instructor
For names I prefer Masoud, or if you would rather use a formal name Mr. Jasbi. For pronouns he/his/him.
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 your 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! Please wonder!