Logic and Conversation: Fall 2014

Amsterdam Master of Logic, University of Amsterdam

This year we will have a special edition of the course featuring a number of lectures by Prof. Anna Szabolcsi from New York University, who will be visiting the Inquisitive Semantics group at the ILLC during the Fall semester as a KNAW Visiting Professor. The theme of the course will be Quantification and Inquisitiveness. After reviewing some classical work in formal semantics and pragmatics related to quantification and the interpretation of questions, we will look at the framework of inquisitive semantics in some detail and then dive into several issues involving the interaction between quantification and inquisitiveness, exploring various themes from Prof. Szabolcsi’s 2010 book on quantification as well as her more recent work in this area.

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Anna Szabolcsi

Lecturer (NYU)

Jeroen Groenendijk

Guest lecturer (ILLC)

Liz Coppock

Guest lecturer (Gothenburg)


Good working knowledge of first-order logic is required. Familiarity with type-logical semantics will be very convenient. Ideally, students have already taken Structures for Semantics. Otherwise, it is advised to study this overview paper by Reinhard Muskens in preparation for the course.

Preliminary schedule

Assignments and grading

  • There will be 4 homework assignments, each will make up 22.5% of the grade. The last assignment will include an option to write a short essay (5-10 pages). Some topics will be suggested, but you can also pick a topic yourself.
  • Students are required to email a question or comment about the reading for each class to the instructors at least 18 hours before the class takes place. Fulfilling this requirement makes up the remaining 10% of the grade. Please direct your email to Floris Roelofsen, Anna Szabolcsi and Jeroen Groenendijk, and start the subject with [LC2014-X], where X is the number of the class. Please formulate your question or comment clearly and concisely.


Tuesdays 13.00-15.00, Fridays 13.00-15.00 (room differs from class to class)

Date Room Content
Part 1: Setting the stage
28/10 B0.203 Logic and conversation (Grice 1975), see also Chapter 6 of Gamut and the notes used in class.
31/10 G0.18A The logic of interrogation (Groenendijk 1999), see also Ten Cate & Shan, 2007.
Part 2: Inquisitive semantics
4/11 B0.203 Inquisitive semantics: a new notion of meaning (CGR 2013).
See also the handout used in class, with some additions based on discussion during and after class.
7/11 B0.206 Inquisitive algebra
Primary reading: section 3 of CGR 2012 and Roelofsen, 2013.Background reading (if needed): section 1 of Szabolcsi 1997.
First assignment, posted 8/11, due 18/11.
11/11 B0.203 Inquisitive semantics, the basic system InqB (section 4 of CGR 2012).
14/11 B0.204 General discussion of relevance for natural language semantics (section 6 of CGR 2012).
18/11 B0.203 Two more concrete applications: questions & disjunction.
Primary reading: section 6 of CGR 2013, and this note.
Background reading: Alonso-Ovalle 2008
Second assignment, posted 18/11, due 28/11 (extended deadline: 30/11).
Part 3: Quantification
21/11 B0.203 Generalized quantifiers (chapters 2.1, 2.2, and 4 of Szabolcsi 2010)
After class on 21/11 there will be a LEGO lecture by Jeroen Groenendijk about epistemic and deontic modals in suppositional inquisitive semantics, an extension of the basic inquisitive semantics framework that we have discussed in class. Time: 4pm. Place: OMHP, A2.30 (city centre).
25/11 B0.203 Quantifier particles and compositionality
Primary reading: Szabolcsi 2013
Background reading: Kratzer 2005
Third assignment, posted 25/11, due 12/12.
28/11 B0.203 Type-logical semantics and scope assignment
Readings: Muskens 2011, section 2.3 of Szabolcsi 2010, and this lecture note.
On 2/12 there will be an extra meeting to talk about the first assignment.
Time: 11.00-13.00. Place: A1.14.
2/12 B0.203 Scopal diversity
Reading: chapters 6, 7, 10.1, 10.2 of Szabolcsi 2010, Buring 2008, and this handout.
Part 4: Quantification and inquisitiveness
5/12 A1.20 Modified numerals (Coppock & Brochhagen 2013)
Please cc your question/comment for this class to Liz Coppock (eecoppock@gmail.com)
9/12 B0.203 Modified numerals and questions under discussion
Reading: Westera & Brasoveanu 2014 and Bach 2002 (up to the first paragraph of page 5)
Please cc your question/comment for this class to Matthijs Westera (matthijs.westera@gmail.com)
Fourth assignment, posted 9/12, due 19/12.
12/12 B0.204 Wrap-up and discussion of some topics involving quantification and inquisitiveness for possible future work: GQs in inquisitive semantics, quantification into questions, and quantification over answers to embedded questions.
There is no reading for this class, but please do send us one or two questions, which can be about anything you have learned about, or would like to have learned about during the course.