Advanced issues in cognitive science and linguistics (5cr)

Master courses
Cursos de lingüística obligatorios
Inicio / Fin: 
From 26/04/16 to 26/05/2016
UAB: 26/4 & 23/5-26/5: Sala d’Actes Filosofia i Lletres, B7/1056; 29/4-13/5 Seminari A, B7/1058
The main goal of this course is to familiarize students with a range of highly debatable issues concerning some of the most basic semantic concepts such as reference, (in)definiteness and genericity. The first part of the course will introduce current theoretical perspectives on the debated questions, the second part will focus on the acquisition and experimental studies and explain how they can help us resolve some of the fundamental questions concerning the semantics principles of referentiality. 
Estructura y contenidos: 

Sessions on April 26,29 and May 3,6,10,13 by Olga Borik

Sessions on May 23,24,25,26 by Tania Ionin


The course will cover the following topics: 

1. Reference: a formal semantic approach. The semantic contribution of common nouns and determiners

2. Theoretical perspectives on definiteness, indefiniteness and specificity 

3. Genericity, types of genericity, ways of expressing genericity cross-linguistically 

4. Issues in language acquisition, with a focus on L2

5. Article semantics in second language acquisition: definiteness and specificity

6. Genericity and the interpretation of plural NPs in the acquisition of English and Spanish

7. Interpretation of singular and plural generics in English vs. Romance languages

8. Interpretation of bare NPs in Brazilian Portuguese


Lectures, exercises, discussion of the assigned readings. 


Class participation, assignments, and a short essay (up to 7 pages) on a topic to be agreed upon between the students and the professors.

  • Abbott, B. (2003). Definiteness and Indefiniteness, in L. Horn and G. Ward (eds.), Handbook of Pragmatics. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • *Chierchia, G. & S. McConnell-Ginet (1990, 2000), Meaning and grammar. An introduction to semantics, Cambridge Mass.: The MIT Press. 
  • *Escandell M.V. (2004): Fundamentos de Semántica Composicional. Barcelona: Ariel. 
  • von Heusinger, K. & E. Kaiser (2010) Special Issue ‘Reference and Discourse Structure”, International Review of Pragmatics 2(2). 
  • Ionin, T. (2009). Specificity. Encyclopedia entry, in L. Cummings (Ed.), The Pragmatics Encyclopedia. Routledge.
  • Ionin, T., Ko, H. and Wexler, K. 2004. Article semantics in L2-acquisition: the role of specificity. Language Acquisition 12, 3-69. 
  • *Kearns, K. (2000, 2011), Semantics. Londres: Palgrave.
  • Krifka, M., F. Pelletier, F., Carlson, G., ter Meulen, A., Link, G., & Chierchia, G. (1995). Genericity: An introduction. In G. Carlson & F. Pelletier (Eds.), The generic book (pp. 1-125).Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Montrul, S. 2014. Transfer, fossilization and incomplete acquisition: The Interlanguage Hypothesis 40 years later. In E. Tarone and Z-H Han (eds.). Interlanguage: 40 Years later. In honor of Larry Selinker. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Schmitt, C. & A. Munn. (2002). The syntax and semantics of bare arguments in Brazilian Portuguese. Linguistic Variation Yearbook 2:185-216. 
  • White, L. 2003. Universal Grammar and language acquisition. Chapter 1 of Second Language Acquisition and Universal Grammar. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.