LIGN 247 / PHIL 234 - Context sensitivity and the appeal of the hidden  
Spring 2012


This course is a graduate-level seminar on linguistic elements and constructions whose interpretation exhibits sensitivity to the context of utterance that has been accounted for by assuming hidden elements in the linguistic structure. We'll focus on some paradigmatic cases with two main goals: to understand the main aspects of the individual puzzles and to try to look for commonalities in the data, the hidden elements that have been postulated, and/or the nature of the supporting arguments.

Wednesday 2-4:50 pm, HSS 7077
Office: AP&M 4131
E-mail: click here
Phone: (858) 534 7220
Office hours: TBA, by appointment, or just stop by
Office: H&SS 8072
E-mail: joncohen AT aardvark DOT ucsd DOT edu
Phone: (858) 534 6812
Office hours: TBA
  • The readings are listed on the schedule below and are available for you to download as pdf files. They are password protected and each of you should have received ID and password from the instructors by e-mail.
  • Readings are required and should be done prior to class.


  • Class participation
  • Readings (a brief question/comment on each paper that you are required to read (but you are not presenting) should be submitted on a piece of paper at the beginning of the class in which the paper is discusssed)
  • Guiding the discussion of two papers among the readings (with handouts and/or slides)
  • In-class presentation of (a preliminary version of) the final paper
  • Final paper: reserach paper not a book report or article review (15-25 pages)
(last update: 08/21/2012 )
  • WARNING! If you try to download the password protected material from your personal computer with a browser that have the UCSD proxy on, you may get a failure message before even entering your ID and password. Two solutions: 1) use a different browser without a UCSD proxy, or 2) turn off the UCSD proxy on your usual browser so that you can enter your own password for the class website, since apparently the proxy does it automatically.
  • The schedule below is tentative and will be updated through out the course. Make sure to check it regularly!


(tentative! changes may still occur through out the course)

(tentative! changes may still occur through out the course)

wk 1   4/4  
  • Introduction
wk 2   4/11  
  • Overview
  • Indexicals and demonstratives: character, content, double indexing
  • [Jonathan]
    Kaplan, Demonstratives
    required: Preface, Sections I-VI (both parts), VIII, XI, XIII, XIV, and as much of the formal system and remarks (Sections XVIII-XIX) as you can
    suggested: the whole paper
wk 3   4/18  
  • Gradable adjectives
wk 4   4/25  
  • Semantic coercion
  • Hidden variables and domain restriction
wk 5   5/2  
  • Diagnostics (I)


  • Relevant philosophy colloquium talk:
    Igal Kvart
    Rational Assertibility, the Steering Role of Knowledge, and Pragmatic Encroachment
    4-6 pm, H&SS 7077
wk 6   5/9  
  • Diagnostics (II)
wk 7   5/16  
  • Predicates of taste (I)
wk 8   5/23  
  • Predicates of taste (II)
  • Contextualism and relativism (I)

wk 9   5/30  
  • Contextualism and relativism (II)


wk 10   6/6  
  • Students' presentations of their own papers
Finals week   6/13  
  • Final papers are due by 5 pm to Jonathan or Ivano in person or by e-mail (please send a pdf file if you are choosing the e-mail option)
Useful links

(last update: 08/21/2012 )