Undergraduate Program

Language and Thought: Syllabus

Course: CSC  260
Term: Spring 2011-2012

This syllabus will evolve as we go through the course. 

Jan. 21, 2011
Reading for discussion:  Chapter Two of Steven Pinker, The Stuff of Thought. Viking, 2007.
Other sources for more information on what was discussed:

Adele Goldberg, Constructions: A construction grammar approach to argument structure, Chicago U. Press, 1995.
Ray Jackendoff, Semantics and Cognition, MIT Press, 1983.

Background paper on event semantics discussed by Greg:

Donald Davidson (1967). The Logical Form of Action Sentences. In Nicholas Rescher (ed.), The Logic of Decision and Action. University of Pittsburgh Press. (pdf)

Readings for Jan 28, 2011

We will be reading and discussing two survey papers from an upcoming book The Handbook of Seamantics. One looking deeper into the Lexical Conceptual Structure (LCS) discussed by Pinker, and another looking at encoding word meaning from a logical/computational perspective. For the students taking the class for credit, please email me a one page paper before the next class exploring the issue of whether these two papers are compatible in their views, identify areas that are complementary and contradictory.

Here are the two papers:
Levin and Rappaport Hovav, Lexical Conceptual Structure : (pdf)
Jerry Hobbs, Word Meaning and World Knowledge (pdf) (just the first 33 pages)

We will spend the first half of the class discussing the two readings. The second half Greg will present more details on LCS taken from the following paper: Malka Rappapart Hovav and Beth Levin, Building Verb Meanings,   in M. Butt and W. Geuder, eds., The Projection of Arguments: Lexical and Compositional Factors, CSLI Publications, Stanford, CA, 97-134. (pdf)

Readings for Feb 4th
This week we will be reading and discussing some core papers dealing with the temporal aspects of events. This work provides key background referred to in many of the readings in this course

Greg will lead a discussion on the following papers:
Bach, E. (1986). "The Algebra of Events." Linguistics and Philosophy 9: 5-16. (pdf)
Mourelatsos, A. (1978). "Events, Processes and States." Linguistics and Philosophy 2: 415-434. (pdf)

Mary will present her paper:
Bohnemeyer, J. and M. Swift (2004). "Event Realization and Default Aspect." Linguistics and Philosophy 27: 263-296 (pdf)(and some errata corrections)

Readings for Feb 11th

This week Greg will *really* present the build verb meanings paper, and then we will be discussing two computationally oriented papers dealing with events and aspectual classes.

Moens, M. and M. Steedman (1988). "Temporal Ontology and Temporal Reference." Computational Linguistics 14(2). (pdf)
Allen, J. F. (1984). "Towards a General Theory of Action and Time." Artifical Intelligence 23: 123-154. (pdf)

As a supplementary reading on last weeks topic and this week, see this excerpt from Dowty's 1979 book Word meaning and Montague grammar: The semantics of verbs and times in generative semantics and in Montague's PTQ (pdf). He lists a variety of tests you can use to determine whether events are states, achievements, and so on.

Readings for Feb 18th

We will be reading Chapter 4 of the Pinker book plus the follow paper:

Pustejovsky, James. The Generative Lexicon, Computational Linguistics, 17, 4, 1991 (pdf ). For a more comprehensive treatment of this, see his book, The Generative Lexicon, MIT Press, 1995.

Also, there is an assignment based on the papers read last week here. Hand in before this coming class

Readings for Feb 25th

We will be looking at thematic roles this week. Greg will be presenting Dowty's 1991 paper, Thematic Proto-Roles and Argument Selection, Language, Vol. 67, No. 3 pdf.

For before class readings, you should read the introductory paper from Brinton and Brinton, The Linguistic Structure of Modern English, Benjamins, 2010 pdf

Readings for March 4th
This week we will be looking at Talmy's work on force dynamics. Review the last part of Chapter 4 of the Pinker book and read the following except from Talmy's book

Leonard Talmy, Towards a Cognitive Semantics, MIT Press, 2000. pdf

Also, there is an assignment hereIt is a more difficult assignment than previously so don't wait until the last minute to work on it!

Readings for March 25th

This week we will be looking at two papers that are follow-ons to the Talmy force dynamics work. These are

B. Copley and H. Harley, Force Dynamics for event semantics: Reifying causation in event structure, pdf
W. Croft, Force Dynamics and directed change in event localization and argument realization,pdf

Readings for April 1st
This week we will be looking at two papers that start to develop some of event semantics ideas we've been reading in the past few weeks towards a foundation more suitable for computation. 

Allen, J and Ferguson, G. Actions and Events in Interval Temporal Logic Journal of Logic and Computation 4(5) 1994. (pdf). Read the paper up to the example on page 27 and then work on the assignment here

James Pustejovsky, The Syntax of Event Structure, Cognition 41, 1991. (pdf)

Readings for April 8th

This week we will start with project presentations, and then we will be discussing Chapter 5 of the Pinker book, "The metaphor metaphor".

Readings for April 15th

This week we will explore issues of non-compositionality in language meaning, e.g., idioms. The readings are

Fillmore, C. and O'Connor, M. 1988. Regularity and idiomaticity in grammatical constructions. Language 64, 501-38. pdf

Nunberg, G., Sag, I and Wasow,T. Idioms, Language, Vol. 70, No. 3 pdf


Readings for April 23rd, Last Class!

This week we will be reading about Frame semantics and Framenet. There is an assignment based on these readings here due before class.

Gawron, J. M.  Frame Semantics, from upcoming book The Handbook of Semantics pdf

Baker, Collin F. and Josef Ruppenhofer (2002) FrameNet's Frames vs. Levin's Verb Classes. In J. Larson and M. Paster (Eds.) In Proceedings of the 28th Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society. 27-38  pdf