(information adapted from LSA website) http://web.mit.edu/lsa2005/courses/descriptions.html
(advanced seminar) “Alternatives in Semantics”.
The seminar brought together areas in semantics where alternative semantic
values are likely to play a role: focus, disjunction, scalar phenomena,
wh-expressions, and more generally indefinites, in particular polarity
sensitive and free choice indefinites. Prerequisites: Graduate-level background
in syntax and semantics.
2. Heim & Jacobson’s “Direct
compositionality: binding and ellipsis”.
This dialogue seminar examined some implications of a directly compositional
and variable-free approach to phenomena of binding and ellipsis. Such
an approach assumes that the syntax builds expressions while the semantics
directly supplies a model-theoretic interpretation of each expression
as it is built. It moreover assumes that semantics makes no use of assignment
functions or of indices in the syntax. The seminar began by showing how
these assumptions shape the analysis of phenomena such as binding, ellipsis,
extraction, scope, and the interaction of these. The resulting proposals
then will be critically compared with competing analyses of a more standard
kind, which make crucial reference to a mediating level of Logical Form
and a syntactic encoding of variables and binding relations. Prerequisites:
some familiarity with model-theoretic semantics (such as an introductory
course in formal semantics).
3. Fox’s “Scalar
implicatures and the organization of grammar”. This class
concentrated on the source of Scalar Implicatures, comparing the Gricean
approach to implicatures, which attributes their presence to a reasoning
process about the belief states of speakers, to an alternative language-internal
account that was developed... Various arguments were presented in favor
of the alternative, depending on various auxiliary hypotheses about the
nature of degree representations, the syntax of comparative constructions,
the interpretation of questions and definite descriptions, and the relevance
of events or situations to natural language semantics. Much of the course
was dedicated to a discussion of these hypotheses and the evidence in
their support. Central to all of this – a detailed argument that
implicature calculation makes use of a modular (i.e., informationally
4. Stalnaker’s “Pragmatics”.
This course focused on foundational issues about pragmatics: the ever
changing line (or lines) between semantics and pragmatics, different conceptions
of context, the Gricean distinction between saying and meaning, the notion
of implicature, and its role in the explanation of linguistic phenomena.
5. Portner & Zanuttini’s “Clause-typing:
from syntax to discourse semantics”.
This course examined the nature of clause type systems in natural language
with a primary focus on imperatives as a case study. A clause type is
a conventional association between a sentential form and an illocutionary
force. Clause type systems exhibit universals (for example, all languages
seem to have declaratives, interrogatives, and imperatives, while none
has a type which conventionally makes a threat), and thus are a good candidate
for helping us understand deep properties of grammar. The study of clause
types is interesting for students whose main fields are syntax, semantics,
or formal pragmatics. The course began with an overview of approaches
to the topic. It then presented the theory which the instructors have
developed over the past few years; this approach highlights the role of
the syntax-semantics interface in understanding clause typing, in contrast
to more purely syntactic or semantic approaches, and also involves a formal
theory of the discourse context. The primary focus was on imperatives.
Prerequisites: Familiarity with syntactic theory and formal semantic theory.
Appropriate preparation would be advanced undergraduate or introductory
graduate courses in these areas (two semesters of syntax, one of formal
semantics). Feel free to email the instructors with questions as to whether
your preparation is adequate.
6. Reinhart’s “The
Theta-System”. The framework is
the Theta System developed in Reinhart (2002) and Reinhart and Siloni
(to appear). The Theta system (what has been labeled in Chomsky's Principles
and Parameters framework 'Theta theory') is the system enabling the interface
between the systems of concepts and the computational system -syntax (and,
via the syntactic representations, with the semantic inference systems).
1. Kingston and Lahiri’s “Introduction
to Phonetics”. The first three
weeks of this course covers the fundamentals of speech production, acoustics,
and perception. Its purpose is to lay the empirical and theoretical groundwork
for the focus on specific phenomena in the second three weeks of the course.
Considerable attention was paid along the way to the relationships between
phonetics and phonology. Extensive use of PRAAT software in class demonstrations,
exercises, and projects. The second half of the course focuses on theories
of speech production and perception including psycholinguistic models.
2. Kenneth Stevens’ .Acoustic
Phonetics and Distinctive Features. This
is an advanced class on 1) Acoustics of vowel production; vowel systems;
quantal relations for vowels; nasal vowels. 2) Acoustics of sonorant and
obstruent consonant production 3) Laboratory on acoustics of vowels and
consonants; spectrogram reading 4) Review of defining articulation and
acoustics for distinctive features 5) Enhancing gestures in English; examples
from other language; modifications in running speech; models of speech
perception 6) Laboratory exercises; more spectrogram reading
3. Keith Johnson’s Acoustic
Phonetics. This course was a hands-on
introduction to acoustic phonetic analysis. The majority of the course
was devoted to practical measurement problems. Praat, Wavesurfer and Tube
(speech synthesizer) were introduced and used through out the course.
4. Guenther and Perkell’s Speech
Articulation. This is an advanced course.
Some backgrounds in physiology and acoustics were required. It described
the anatomy and physiology of the vocal tract and the neural control of
speech movements. Examples of anatomical and physiological constraints
on sound patterns and speech movements were shown, along with observations
of motor control strategies, the role of hearing and relations between
production and perception. An historical overview of models of speech
production was presented. Current computational models of speech production
were also addressed, including treatment of the development of speaking
skills and the neural substrate for speech production.
5. McCarthy’s Introduction
to Optimality Theory. This course explained
the properties and results of Optimality Theory in a way that is accessible
to students who may have little or no prior background (or interest) in
phonology. The focus will be on understanding the theory itself and how
it works, rather than on the mechanics of analysis. Prerequisite: Familiarity
with the goals of linguistic theory and the nature of linguistic analysis.
6. Mei and Peyraube’s Chinese
Historical Syntax. This course focused
on the mechanisms and the motivations of syntactic - and semantic - change
in Chinese since the Pre-Archaic period (14th c. BC) to the Modern times
(18th c. AD). A typological and parametric perspective was adopted, as
well as the study of the processes of Reanalysis (Grammaticalization),
Analogy and External Borrowing from a cognitive-functionalist approach.
Three special topics were covered: resultative constructions, locative
structures and passive forms.
7. Tzeng’s “From
Gene to Language: Linguistic Diversity and Brain Plasticity.
Cross-linguistic studies of brain functions permit us to separate universal
mechanisms from language-specific content. By uncovering the range of
variations that are possible under normal and abnormal conditions, cross-language
studies also address the critical issues of behavioral and neural plasticity.
Chinese languages, in both spoken and written forms, provide important
and interesting points of reference for comparative language/brain relationships
due to their unique linguistic properties. In this respect, this course
intends to give a review of modern brain-imaging techniques such as fMRI,
ERP, and MEG and their applications to Chinese neurolinguistic studies.
Results from our laboratories as well as those of others should provide
new and converging information about the functional neuroanatomy of speaking
and reading Chinese.
the LSA Fellowship:
The summer institute offers fellowships and it covers the tuition fee
for the whole 6 weeks. The tuition fee was US$2000 this year. If you are
thinking about going to the next LSA summer school to be held at Stanford
University in 2007 summer, you are encouraged to apply for it. If you
receive the fellowship, you will be required to be a full-time participant
and have to take at least eight credits for 6 weeks.
The accommodation offered at MIT and Harvard was very expensive, around
US$1500 for a double room for six weeks. A lot of participants managed
to rent a room off campus. If you are thinking about going to the 2007
LSA summer school and you would like to save some expense, start searching
for rooms in advance, preferably in spring to get a room for summer.
There was a special lecture forum every Thursday night preceded by a wonderful
buffet dinner with live music on site. It was the most relaxing time in
a week for participants to sit around to eat and chat. The Thursday night
lectures invited researchers in various linguistic subfields to give a
talk on their research.
Practical workshops and academic conferences were arranged on the weekends
during the 6 weeks period. Some LSA participants were presenters at the
conferences and quite a number of profs attended the LSA due to the workshops/conferences.
If anyone is interested in finding out more details about these courses,
please let us know –
Angela - email@example.com, for phonetics/phonology/psycholinguistics
Keren - firstname.lastname@example.org, for semantics/pragmatics/syntax