Probabilistic Approaches to Semantics

Lecturer(s):Ariel Cohen (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)
Type:Introductory Course
Section:Logic and Language
Time: 17.00-18.30 (Slot 4)
Room:EM 2.44


The primary formal tool used in accounts of the 
semantics of natural language is, of course, logic. 
Increasingly, however, semantic problems have been 
identified for whose account traditional logic is not 
sufficient, and needs to be enriched with probabilistic 
notions. In recent years there has been increased interest 
in probabilistic approaches to language, with books and 
workshops dedicated to these issues.
        In this course we will discuss a sample of the 
various phenomena that have received probabilistic accounts.
The emphasis will be on the manner in which probability is 
used in these accounts, on the motivation for using 
probability, and on how probabilistic approaches compare 
with non-probabilistic ones.
        The course will assume familiarity with elementary 
formal semantics, but no prior knowledge of probability will
be presupposed.

        We will cover the following topics:

1.      Introduction: probability and its meaning. 
2.      Generics and frequency adverbs. 
3.      Conditionals. 
4.      Vagueness and vague quantifiers. 
5.      Truth-conditional or probability-conditional 


© ESSLLI 2005 Organising Committee 2004-12-12