Ling 392/792: From Morpho-Syntax to Meaning: Definiteness, Indefiniteness, Genericity
This course explores how individual languages encode the notions of definiteness, indefiniteness and genericity, and whether it is possible to predict such meanings when overt morpho-syntactic cues are absent. Languages with and without definite/indefinite articles provide critical test cases. Students read primary semantic literature on each of these three topics to get a solid grounding in the theoretical issues surrounding them. They also evaluate how empirical discoveries from different languages have shaped our understanding of the connection between morpho-syntax and semantics. The broader question considered here is the possibility of a restrictive theory of cross-linguistic variation in the interpretation of nominals.
Prerequisite: LING 263 or permission of instructor.