Logic and Language

Michael Glanzberg (Northwestern University): Encoding perspective in semantic theories

Speaker: Michael Glanzberg (Northwestern University)
Title: Encoding perspective in semantic theories
Time: 14:00 - 15:30
Location: Science Park room A1.10

Thought and language involve a very broad notion of perspective. We rarely (if ever) say `cat' and then 'mat'; rather, we say `the cat was on the mat' (in the past relative to our current temporal `perspective'). We can also add locative information, saying `the cat is on the mat to the right'; information about our current epistemic `perspective', saying `the cat might be on the mat' (as far as we know); or our tastes, saying `It is fun to wake the cat up when it is sleeping on the mat' (relative to our `perspective' on what counts as fun). Among the many questions this fact raises are a number of important ones about how language encodes aspects of perspective. In this talk, I shall explore some foundational issues the encoding of perspective raises for semantic theories. One the one hand, we have theories that encode perspective into semantic values, creating somewhat simpler compositional semantics, but richer outputs. On the other we have theories which keep the outputs of compositional semantics simple, but invoke more complicated mechanisms within the working of the semantics. Though it might appear less elegant, I shall offer some general considerations in favor of the latter, focusing on its effects on the syntax/semantics interface, and on the apparatus of binding.