24.910 | Spring 2009 | Undergraduate

Topics in Linguistic Theory: Propositional Attitudes


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session


This course explores topics related to the representation and expression of propositional attitudes (e.g. belief, knowledge, and desires) and speech acts (e.g. saying and asking) in natural language. The main focus will be on semantics of predicates such as believe, know, want, say, ask, etc. Other topics will include the syntax of main and embedded clauses and formal representation of the pragmatics of conversation. The course provides practice in written and oral communication.


The prerequisites are permission of the instructor or 24.901 Language and Its Structure I: Phonology, 24.902 Language and Its Structure II: Syntax, and 24.903 Language and Its Structure III: Semantics and Pragmatics.


Students are expected to read the required reading before class, attend all class sessions, and participate in class discussion. There will be three papers and three class presentations. Occasional homework exercises, reading responses, and comments on each other’s work will be assigned.


Because this course will involve extensive in-class discussion and participation, it is important that you attend and participate in all class meetings. Having more than one unexcused absence will result in a lower grade. Three or more unexcused absences are automatic grounds for failing the course. Excused absences will only be granted with documentation from a dean or other appropriate Institute official.

Late Papers

Late papers will be accepted on a case-by-case basis and will be penalized unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Academic Honesty

In all written assignments, you must make clear which ideas are original to you and which are taken from other authors, and you must cite your sources accordingly. The writing must be your own. If you are unclear on what is acceptable in this respect, be sure to contact me.


Paper 1 15%
Paper 2 15%
Paper 3 15%
Presentation 1 10%
Presentation 2 10%
Presentation 3 15%
Other: class participation, attendance, readings, and homework exercises 20%

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2009
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Written Assignments