Hadas Kotek » Teaching

Semantics 2 [Spring 2017]:

Advanced course in semantics for undergraduate and graduate students, Yale University. Blurb:

This course is the second course in sequence with LING 263/663, which is a prerequisite for this course. The goal is to expand students’ understanding of the empirical domain and techniques in formal semantics and pragmatics as well as to develop skills in doing independent semantic analysis. We will focus on analyzing a range of empirical phenomena and use these to strengthen our feel for asking questions and solving puzzles in Semantics. This course has a heavy hands-on component. Early in the semester, each student will come up with a topic that they want to work on in more detail. The topics covered and readings done in the second part of the semester will depend on student choices for research topics. I will designate readings around these topics and they will be read by all of us so that each student can “tinker” around fruitfully with the appropriate semantic tools to come up with an analysis.


Illusions of Language [Spring 2017]:

Freshman seminar, Yale University. Blurb:

In order to understand language, speakers must successfully navigate complex linguistic expressions on a rapid time-scale. Failures of the linguistic parser provide a window into how language is encoded in the brain and how it is deciphered in real time. This course gives special attention to ’grammatical illusions’: expressions which the parser mistakenly accepts as grammatical, despite making little sense upon closer reflection, and on the other hand grammatical sentences which the parser has difficulty processing. Emphasis is also put on illusions and misconceptions about language, such as the belief that women speak more than men, that ‘vocal fry’ can harm your voice, and that double negation as in I don’t have no time for this is illogical.


Semantics 1 [Fall 2016]:

Introduction to semantics for undergraduate and graduate students, Yale University. Blurb:

Introduction to truth-conditional compositional semantics. Set theory, first- and higher-order logic, and the lambda calculus as they relate to the study of natural language meaning. Some attention to analyzing the meanings of tense/aspect markers, adverbs, and modals.


Questions and focus [Fall 2016]:

Undergraduate/graduate seminar on the syntax and semantics of questions and focus, Yale University.

See Fall 2014 for materials.


Introduction to the Study of Language [Winter 2016]:

Introduction to linguistics for non-majors, McGill University. Blurb:

This class will provide some answers to basic questions about the nature of human language. Throughout the course, we will be examining a number of ways in which human language is a complex but law-governed mental system. We will study some core aspects of this system in detail, and then use what we have learned to address a variety of other questions – including how language is acquired, how dialects arise, how languages change over time, and others. The main component of evaluation will be linguistic problem solving through assignments and exams.

Syllabus, Materials

Introduction to Linguistics [Winter 2016]:

Introduction to linguistics for majors, McGill University. Blurb:

This course is an introduction to linguistic theory and analysis. Topics covered include phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics. The goal is to familiarize students with current tools of linguis- tic analysis. Students will be required to display an understanding of these tools by applying them to data from different languages. The main component of evaluation will be linguistic problem solving through assignments, quizzes and exams.


Special Topics: The Syntax of Ellipsis [Winter 2015]:

Undergraduate seminar, McGill University. Blurb:

Under certain conditions, linguistic material can be omitted from an utterance but we nevertheless understand the utterance as if it has not been [ ]. The challenge of associating meanings with “silence” has made this [ ] a central topic in linguistic research. In this course, we will explore a variety of phenomena that involve omission of *[ ], mainly involving ellipsis in the verbal domain. We will ask ourselves not only what material can be elided, but also why [ ]; and we will discuss at length whether it’s possible to “rescue” some ungrammatical structures using ellipsis, and if so, which ones [ ]. We will study both seminal and current papers in the syntactic literature, and also ?[ ] psycholinguistic aspects of the processing of ellipsis and its perception. Students in the class will be required to do weekly readings, actively participate in *[ ], give one in-class presentation, and write a short squib.

Syllabus, Materials

Questions, focus, and friends [Fall 2014]:

Graduate seminar, McGill University. Blurb:

In this seminar we will explore the syntax and semantics of questions and focus constructions. From a theoretical point of view, we will discuss in detail two technologies used for scope taking—(covert) movement and focus alternative computation—which are commonly employed in the analysis of both questions and focus constructions. From a more typological perspective, we will explore the shared overt morphosyntactic strategies some languages use in the expression of both kinds of constructions.

Phenomena to be discussed include in-situ and ex-situ wh-questions and Association with Focus constructions, pied-piping, movement asymmetries and islands, intervention effects, and alternative questions. Time permitting, we may discuss other phenomena for which both (covert) movement and alternative computation have been (or could be) employed, such as disjunction, NPIs, universal quantification, and head-internal relatives.

Requirements for registered students will include infrequent homework assignments and two language journals, which report on the investigation of wh-questions and focus constructions in a particular language, based on elicitation with a native speaker. We will assume some familiarity with properties of A’ (wh) movement and (extensional) compositional semantics as in Heim & Kratzer (1998), but important parts of the theory will be reviewed in class. Pass/fail registration is welcome.

Syllabus, Materials

This seminar led to a Winter semester reading group on wh-indefinites: Materials.

Turkshop [Spring 2013]:

Workshop at the Experimental Syntax/Semantics lab at MIT department of Linguistics on the use of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, introducing turktools: a set of tools designed to assist researchers to create a wide range of linguistic tasks, including linguistic grammaticality surveys, sentence completion tasks, and picture-matching tasks. The tools further help streamline the design of such linguistic experiment and assist in the extraction and analysis of the resulting data.