NASSLLI 2012 June 18 - 22

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Room: UTC 4.104


The course is an introduction to the basic techniques needed to analyze intensional constructions in terms of possible world semantics. After a short characterization of the core phenomena (substitutivity in attitude reports, de re/de dicto, unspecificity), the method of extension and intension is developed and applied to account for them. At the end of the week a few foundational issues (framework dependence, granularity) will be discussed.


The course addresses students with a firm background in extensional (formal) semantics but little or no knowledge of intensional interpretation.


Heim & Kratzer, Semantics in Generative Grammar, or any (part of a) textbook with a similar coverage of techniques and phenomena.


  • Day 1:
    • Holes in Inference Patterns: A first and tentative characterization of intensional contexts by failure of simple formalization patterns from predicate logic.
    • Extensions: Introducing some basic assumptions (compositionally, characterization of meaning in terms of communicative function) and some simple extensions (names, descriptions, verbs).
  • Day 2:
    • Extensions (ctd.): Introducing the compositional treatment of quantification and extensional types
    • Intensions: Motivating and introducing (a) Logical Space as a model of linguistic content and (b) intensional types.
  • Day 3:
    • Attitude Reports: Introducing intensions as compositional contributions to extensions, thereby for solving substitution puzzles (Frege's strategy).
  • Day 4:
    • Attitude Reports (ctd.): Motivating and introducing (a) Logical Space as a model of content and (b) attitude verbs as restricted quantifiers of possible worlds (Hintikka semantics).
    • Unspecific Objects: Comparing different approaches to intensional transitive verbs.
  • Day 5:
    • General Topics: Focussing on propositionalism and the relativity/inscrutability of reference.


Complete handout


Ede Zimmermann

Email: tezimmer (AT) uni-frankfurt (DOT) de


Thomas Ede Zimmermann graduated from Konstanz University in 1987 and has since held academic positions at various universities. Since 1999, he is a professor of formal semantics in the linguistics department of Goethe University, Frankfurt. He has made various descriptive and foundational contributions to formal semantics. His main areas of research include intensional constructions, the theory of reference, and the formal aspects of semantic complexity.