Integrating Montague Semantics and Event Semantics
Language & Logic
Week One - 11.00-12.30 - Level: I
Course Description: It is sometimes believed that the marriage of (Neo-)Davidsonian event semantics and Montague semantics is an uneasy one. And indeed, in many implementations of event semantics, standard treatments of scope-taking elements such as quantifiers, negation, conjunctions, modals, etc. are complicated compared to the simple accounts they get in semantics textbooks. A typical graduate Semantics I course will introduce students to the main idea and motivation of event semantics, and will then go on to describe phenomena like quantification and negation in an event-free framework. While specialists who wish to combine the two frameworks will know where to look for ideas, there are currently no easy-to-use, off-the-shelf systems that puts the two together, textbook-style. An aspiring semanticist might be discouraged by this situation, particularly when a given language or phenomenon that seems to be well-suited to event semantics also involves scope-taking elements that need to be analyzed in some way. For example, event semantics is a natural choice for a fieldworker who wishes to sketch a semantic analysis of a language without making commitments as to the relative hierarchical order of arguments or the argument-adjunct distinction. Yet the same fieldworker would face significant technical challenges before being able to also use such standard tools as generalized quantifier theory or classical negation when encountering quantifiers and negation. This course aims to remedy this situation. After reviewing the basic empirical motivations for event semantics and for Montague semantics, we will review two influential but arguably problematic proposals by Krifka and Landman on how to combine the two frameworks, as well as a novel implementation of event semantics that combines with standard treatments of scope-taking elements in a well-behaved way.
Lecture notes are available online on Lingbuzz.