Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session


This course is the third and final part of our graduate introduction to semantics. The other two classes are 24.970 Introduction to Semantics and 24.973 Advanced Semantics. The semester will be divided into four somewhat independent units, devoted to conversational implicatures (mainly scalar implicatures), questions and exhaustivity, presupposition, and indexicality (probably in this order). In each unit, we will introduce basic concepts and technical tools and then devote some time to recent work which illustrates their application.


24.970 and 24.973 or approximately equivalent background. We will presuppose technical material more or less on the level of Heim and Kratzer (1998), reference below, as well as familiarity with possible world semantics of modal and attitude constructions. Consult with us if you have not taken 24.970 and 24.973.

Heim, Irene and Angelika Kratzer. Semantics in Generative Grammar . Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Limited, 1998. ISBN: 9780631197133.


There will be several reading assignments throughout the semester, some exercises, and a squib at the end of the semester. In the unmarked case, the squib consists of critical discussion of an article (or a group of related articles) which is relevant to the topics covered in this class. It should contain a clear and self-contained presentation of the main claims and arguments in the article, explain why and how they bear on issues discussed in class, and point out problems, possible amendments, or further extensions and applications. A short squib proposal is due on November 16th, and the squib itself on the last class (December 12th, or just a few days later, to be announced).


Only a few papers will be required reading for the whole class. This will leave you plenty of time to browse through related literature and find things to write your squib about, and you should begin with that immediately. Enrolled students are strongly encouraged to make appointments with us to talk about their thoughts throughout the semester (not just when squibs are due).


1-2 What is pragmatics?
3-4 Embedded implicatures
5 More on implicatures
6 Implicatures and contradictions
7 Back to disjunction
8 Implicatures and common knowledge
Questions and exhaustivity
9 Questions and pragmatics
10 More on questions and exhaustivity
11 Gajewski on demand
12 Too many alternatives: Density, symmetry, and other predicaments
13 Kratzer on "exclusive questions" part 1
14 Kratzer part 2
15 Notes on presupposition
16 Presupposition (cont.)
17 Schlenker
18 Florian Schwarz: "Processing presupposed content" and beyond
19 Proviso problem