Ezra Keshet – University of Michigan
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 9:00-10:50 am
2353 Mason Hall
This course explores the meanings of linguistic descriptions of beliefs, dreams, hopes, desires, the past, the future, and what might have been. For instance, while extensional semantics might detail what the world is like when the sentence “it’s raining” is true, intensional semantics asks what the world is like when “Mary thinks it’s raining” is true. (Hint: it doesn’t have to be raining.)
Topics will include tense (“it’s raining” vs. “it rained”), aspect (“it’s raining” vs. “it rains”), modal statements (“it might rain”), propositional attitudes (“I wish it would rain”), conditionals (“If it rains, I’ll get wet”), and the de re / de dicto distinction – the reason why one can say “Mary thinks someone in this room is outside” even if Mary is not crazy.
An introductory theoretical semantics class will be assumed, but aspiring students may study a textbook such as Heim & Kratzer’s Semantics in Generative Grammar (Blackwell, 1998) on their own or enroll concurrently in the introductory semantics class.