When people say things, they usually mean something. The idea of meaning has been studied intensively for over 40 years, by both linguists and philosophers of language. The two traditions are not independent; there have been instances of influence in both directions, as well as instances of cooperation.
This course will concentrate on theories of meaning, with special emphasis on theories that bear on the role of meaning in conversation. We will consider theories of meaning that depend on a speaker's intentions; theories of meaning that associate propositions and truth-values with sentences; theories of inferred or implicit meaning; theories of presupposed meanings; and theories of the interaction of meaning with linguistic contexts. By the end of the course, students should have an idea of the methods that are used to study meaning and of some of the leading theories.
The class will be a 50-50 mix of lecture and discussion.
Students will be asked to write two 8 page papers, and to either write a term paper or take a final examination.