2016 - 2017

  The Semantics of Mass Nouns and Count Nouns  
Prof. landman fredWebb - School of Languages401 Mon1200-1600 Sem  2
University credit hours:  4.0

Course description
MA Seminar - Semantics of Mass nouns and Count nouns  Fred Landman

Course objectives:
The class divides into a tutorial and an intensive study of some the most recent literature on the topic.

We start with a tutorial on the Boolean apporach to the semantics of singular and plural count nouns (following the work of Link 1983 and many others), where the key semantic notions are atomicity (for singularity) and closure under sum (for plurality).
The main topic of the seminar will be the semantics of mass nouns. In recent years, within Boolean semantics, new approaches have been developed by Susan Rothstein and by myself, which, instead of using atomicity as the central notion, propose disjointness as the basic notion on which the difference between count nouns and mass nouns is based. Susan Rothstein has a book coming out this year, and I have develop the formal theory in a book which will appear next year. Part of this material will be central in the seminar. Our main concern will be to show how the framework opens up new linguistic questions and uncovers new linguistic data in study of the semantics of mass nouns, in ways that were never available to the atomicity-based theories.

Prerequisits: Foundations of Formal Semantics
The course is open to MA students and advanced BA students in semantics.

Reading material: Papers and book-manuscripts provided in the course of the class.

Requirements: Seminar paper
The class can also be taken as a course, in which case a little paper is required.

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