Introduction to Semantics


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Lecture with Exercise Sessions
B.Sc. Computational Linguistics
Instructor: Werner Saurer

Lect. Mon 10-12, Ex. Wed 10-12; Building C 72, seminar room
First Meeting: see German version of this page

Content of Course

This course introduces the basic concepts and formal tools used in the model-theoretic paradigm of the semantics for natural languages.
In particular the topics include
- first order predicate logic (review)
- modal and temporal logic
- possible worlds semantics
- type theory, extensional as well as intensional
- lambda abstraction and lambda conversion
- the relationship between syntactic and semantic structure


Mathematical Foundations I or good working knowledge of first order predicate logic

Position in the degree programs

B.Sc. in Computational Linguistics: obligatory course;
MA students with a minor in Computational Linguistics: The course is an elective in the second stage (after the Intermediate Exam - "Zwischenprüfung");
Computer scientists with a minor in Computational Linguistics: The course is optional.

Text Book

L.T.F. Gamut, Logic, Language, and Meaning, Vol. 2: Intensional Logic and Logical Grammar. U of Chicago Press, 1991.


The course carries 6 credits. To get these credits you have to pass a written exam (90 min). (Here is a sample exam.)
There is a deadline for registering for the written exam.  For the exact date for registering and how to register, refer to the German version of this description.

Exercise Session

Wed 10-12, Building C 72, seminar room, first meeting: Wednesday of the 3rd week; for the exact date refer to German version.

Detailed Plan of Lectures

Lecture 1
Introduction: What is semantics? Semantic phenomena, general idea of compositional semantics, lexical semantics, some older semantic theories.

Lecture 2
Introduction to model-theoretic semantics (First Order Predicate Logic (FOL); syntax and formalization).

Lecture 3
Semantics of FOL: model structure,  truth definition, semantic properties and relations.

Lecture 4
Proof theory; lexical semantics: meaning postulates.

Lecture 5
Equivalence transformations, normal forms, resolution; problems of FOL as a tool for semantic representation.

Lecture 6
Temporal  logic.

Lecture 7
Modal logic.

Lecture 8
The theory of types: Motivation and introduction.

Lecture 9
The theory of types (continued).

Lecture 10
Type theory with the lambda operator.

Lecture 11
Intensional logic (intensional theory of types): Motivation and introduction.

Lecture 12
Intensional logic (continued).

Lecture 13
Intensional logic and Montague Grammar.

Lecture 14
Montague Grammar (continued).

Written exam: for the exact date see German version. (sample exam)