Linguistic categories and models of analysis (2017/2018)

Course code
Name of lecturers
Denis Delfitto, Chiara Melloni
Denis Delfitto
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
First half of Semester 1 , Second half of Semester 1

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

This course amounts to an introduction to the study of the systems of interpretation of language. It aims at familiarizing the participants with the theories of meaning within the traditions of studies in the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind, as well as with the tradition of research on the use of language in communicative and social settings (formal pragmatics), including the experimental components of these studies. As a whole, the course represents an introduction to formal semantics and pragmatics, to the formal and experimental methods in the study of linguistic meaning and to the interface between linguistics and cognitive science. The acquisition of this kind of competences is of essential interest within the course of study in Linguistics. At the end of the course, the student should be able to make an independent use of the relevant scientific literature, to communicate efficiently and technically on subjects concerning the logical analysis of meaning in natural language and to extend the acquired knowledge by attending advanced seminars in formal semantics/pragmatics.


This course will consist in an introduction to the theories of meaning in natural language, with a strong focus on the formal methods of analysis and on the cognitive aspects of linguistic analysis.
Here is a short overview of the course contents: 1. Analysis of some issues of meaning through a presentation of the theories on sense and reference developed within the philosophy of language (Frege, Russell, Tarski, Kripke, Kaplan); Analysis of the theories on the use of language in communication, by focusing on Grice and on the neo-Gricean and post-Gricean traditions of studies; 3. Exercises in propositional and predicative calculus (first-order logic) aimed at familiarizing the participants with the logical and formal methods presented and discussed during the course

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Betty J. Birner Introduction to Pragmatics Wiley-Blackwell 2013
Colin McGinn Philosophy of language. The classics explained MIT Press 2015

Assessment methods and criteria

Oral exam at the end of the course (including some written exercises at the blackboard).
The aim of the exam is checking whether the participants have correctly understood and assimilated the main features of the theoretical and technical issues presented and discussed during the course, and whether they are able to apply a part of this knowledge to the resolution of some exercises and problems that will be proposed.
More particularly, the first part of the exam will concern the philosophical and technical aspects of theory of meaning and (experimental) pragmatics that have been dealt with during the course.
The second part of the exam will consists in the execution of some simple exercises at the blackboard or on paper (first-order logic formulas, formal analysis of some linguistic constructions in English and Italian, a comparison between the logic and pragmatic readings of some sentences, a critical examination of the distinct formalizations of the set of pronominal and quantificational constructions discussed during the course).