(I) to give the student a comprehensive overview of several key phenomena involving meaning in linguistic communication and of the theoretical frameworks that aim to model these phenomena, especially theories hailing from contemporary disciplines like formal, computational and experimental semantics and pragmatics and, more generally, cognitive science;|
(II) to teach the student the skills needed to be able to do research themselves within the context of such theories;
(III) to give students the skills needed to formulate theoretical proposals, report on them and test them in the future.
Meaning is a slippery, multifaceted concept. This is mainly because, when we communicate by linguistic means, meaning comes about not just via linguistic conventions but also via reasoning processes that are integral to communicative interaction. In this course we look at formal and computational theories of both linguistic meaning and the reasoning that underlies meaningful communication. A key ingredient of any such theory is the semantics/pragmatics distinction. This division between conventional linguistic sources of meaning on the one hand and meanings that are intentional in nature on the other is often a core assumption made in theories of linguistic communication. But it is also a source of intense debate, since many of the hot topics in the study of meaning today are topics that straddle the semantics/pragmatics divide in interesting and largely unexpected ways. Interestingly, the emerging debates rely heavily on empirical and analytical methods that are new to the field, ranging from experimental to computational methods. As a result, the study of meaning in linguistic communication is shifting from an analytical philosophical discipline to a field that overlaps with cognitive science and artificial intelligence.|
A central question raised throughout the course is what analytical tools we need to conduct a science of meaning. The analytical philosophical tradition has it that it suffices to relate meaning to truth-conditions (the circumstances under which a sentence is true), but there are clear drawbacks to such a narrow view. In the course, we look at ways of going beyond the orthodoxy, in particular by asking what role probabilistic computational models could play in a theory of meaning.
The goal of this course is twofold: (i) to allow the students to understand some of the key empirical and theoretical questions that drive research in this area; (ii) to have the students acquire skills that allow them to conduct their own research in this area and propose novel models of meaning in linguistic communication, be they logical, probabilistic or hybrid in nature.
In the course you will work on further developing several general career skills, such as team work, communication, writing and project and time management.
Priority rules apply to this course. Make sure you register for this course before 14 June 12.00 (noon) 2021 to be considered for enrolment.