LINGUIST List 31.2457

Tue Aug 04 2020

FYI: Teaching Materials for Undergrad Semantics Course

Editor for this issue: Everett Green <>

Date: 02-Aug-2020
From: Nadine Theiler <>
Subject: Teaching Materials for Undergrad Semantics Course
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We (Masha Esipova, Nadine Theiler, and Lucas Champollion) are pleased to announce an updated version of our undergraduate semantics teaching materials. The materials are freely available at The newest version supports remote instruction through homeworks that can be submitted and graded online.

The course is designed as an undergraduate-level introduction to truth-conditional, compositional semantics for students with no or little formal background and has been taught at NYU and UConn. It introduces set theory, propositional logic, and predicate logic as formal tools and covers a wide variety of natural language phenomena, including presuppositions and implicatures, nominal and adverbial modification, tense and aspect, generalized quantifiers, modals, and propositional attitudes.

The course is primarily based on Paul Portner’s textbook `What is Meaning? Fundamentals of Formal Semantics’. Some parts are based on Elizabeth Coppock and Lucas Champollion’s draft textbook `Invitation to Formal Semantics‘.

The materials we make available include:

* PDF handouts for each topic, including the main contents of the class as well as in-class exercises, questions and activities
* a syllabus
* weekly homework questions/problem sets (password-protected, available on request)
* midterm and final exams, and exam review sheets (password-protected, available on request)

The materials are available under a Creative Commons license. We are happy to share LaTeX sources on demand for those who wish to modify them, and we welcome contributions to the course.

Changes with respect to the previous version of the materials:

* The course has been adapted for teaching without a teaching assistant or recitation sections: there are more exercises incorporated directly into the handouts and some topics are covered in less depth.
* The course has also been shortened to fit into a ten-week term.
* The homeworks are available as online Google forms and many homework questions have been adapted to fit this format.

The materials from the earlier version of the course continue to be available and include handouts for a 14-week term, including a separate set of handouts that can be used in recitation.

Linguistic Field(s): Semantics

Page Updated: 04-Aug-2020