"Logic in Natural Language" Week

January 13-17, 1997

Departamento de Informática (DI), Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (UFPE)
Recife, Brazil

Sponsored by
CNPq - Programa RHAE

You are visitor number since December 18, 1996.

Towards a Theory of Utterance Interpretation -- A Labelled Deductive System for Natural Language
Professor Ruth M. Kempson (short cv)
Linguistics Department, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG, United Kingdom

Philosophical Grammar: Meaning, Form, and Metaphysics
Professor Stephen Neale (short cv)
Associate Professor of Philosophy, Chair of Logic and Methodology of Science, Department of Philosophy, Moses Hall, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley CA, 94720, USA
Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, Birkbeck College, University of London, Malet Street, London WCIE 7HX, United Kingdom

Supported by a CNPq/RHAE Project entitled "Deductive Systems for Discourse Representation" we are organising a "Logic in Natural Language (LINGUA)" week in the Departamento de Informatica, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (UFPE), with the participation of Prof Ruth Kempson (SOAS, UK) and Prof Stephen Neale (Berkeley, USA), in the period January 13-17, 1997. This will involve the presentation of tutorial and advanced lectures on current topics in natural language representation and understanding, and the role of logic in the development of a theory of logical form and utterance interpretation.

The tutorials: (i) "Towards a Theory of Utterance Interpretation - A Labelled Deductive System for Natural Language", by Prof Kempson, and (ii) "Meaning, Truth, and Logical Form" by Prof Neale, will take place on the 14th of January 1997, and each shall be approximately 2-hour long. The purpose of the tutorial is to present the state-of-the-art in: (i) the way in which expressions of natural language systematically underdetermine their construal in context, and the processes involved in resolving this underspecification; (ii) our understanding the relationship between meaning and truth, and the role of theories of logical form in attempts to relate syntax and semantics.

Apart from the tutorial scheduled for 14th of January, two more `advanced' lectures will be presented (1-hour long each) by each guest speaker:

Tuesday, 14th January:
10am: "Towards a Theory of Utterance Interpretation -- A Labelled Deductive System for Natural Language"
by R. Kempson

2:30pm: "Philosophical Grammar: Meaning, Form, and Metaphysics"
by S. Neale

Wednesday, 15th January:
9:30am: "A Typology for Question Structures: How to Make Syntax Dynamic"
by R. Kempson

2:30pm: "On the Logic and metaphysics of Nonextensional Constructions in Natural Language"
by S. Neale

Thursday, 16th January:
9:30am: "Syntax as the Architecture for Pragmatic Processing"
by R. Kempson

2:30pm: "Logical Form, Binding, and Minimalism"
by S. Neale

Place: All lectures will take place in room M1, Depto. Informática, UFPE.


Ruth Kempson

"Towards a Theory of Utterance Interpretation - A Labelled Deductive System for Natural Language" (Tutorial)

In this talk I shall introduce a formal framework (LDS-NL) for modelling the way in which natural language is interpreted in context. A central goal of this theory is to explain the way in which expressions of natural language systematically underdetermine their construal in context, and the processes involved in resolving this underspecification. Interpretation is seen as a task of labelled natural deduction from a left-to-right sequence of words. The projection of structure is part of this process, with linguistic input underdetermining both the content to be assigned, and its structure, with on-line choices resolving this underspecification. Concepts of both syntax and semantics are reinterpreted in the light of this dynamic perspective. The framework is exemplified by its ability to explain the interaction between construal of question words and pronouns - the phenomenon known as "crossover". Crossover is a syntactic puzzle, currently thought to divide into at least 3 different sub-phenomena. Seen from the perspective of how information is incrementally built up on a left to right basis as articulated in the LDSNL framework the puzzle is resolved and a unified explanation provided.

"A Typology for Question Structures: How to make Syntax Dynamic"

The array of phenomena displayed by WH questions is generally taken to be definitive of syntactic (as opposed to semantic) properties of natural language. These include WH-initial structures,"subjacency" effects, crossover effects, WH in situ structures, "reconstruction" effects, "partial WH movement" structures. From current syntactic perspectives, these constitute a heterogeneous body of data for which a number of independent principles have to be set up to explain the rich array of cross-language variation. In this talk I apply the LDSNL framework developed in the Tutorial to provide a general account of WH structures, and show how the dynamic perspective on syntactic analysis developed within LDSNL enables us to explain why the overall cluster of properties occurring in WH questions arises. The perspective throws new light on the relation between grammars and parsing.

"Syntax as the Architecture for Pragmatic Processing"

In this talk, I draw together the results of the first two lectures, show how they fit within the background of pragmatic theory, indicate the new avenues of research it suggests in a number of areas, and consider the consequences for syntax, semantics, and general linguistic theory.

Stephen Neale

"Meaning, Truth, and Logical Form" (Tutorial)

In this talk I shall explain (i) the philosophical and linguistic attraction of approaching the construction of a theory of meaning via a theory of truth, (ii) the role of syntactically sophisticated theories of quantification, anaphora, and "logical form" in this enterprise, (iii) the logical and metaphysical problems that result once nonextensional constructions are taken into account. I shall then propose some revisions to traditional ways of addressing these problems that involve factoring semantics into two interlocking structures.

"On the Logic and Metaphysics of Nonextensional Constructions in Natural Language"

In this lecture I will articulate the nature of two constraints on nonextensionality in natural language and on the ontological posits of semantic theories. The first is derived from an argument due to G"odel in the context of a discussion of Russell's account of facts as entities to which true sentences correspond; the second emerges from reflecting upon the nature of any logical system capable of producing semantic theorems of the sort that are standardly required by truth-conditional approaches to meaning. The first constraint is cut-and-dried; the moral of the second is that we must either narrow our nonextensional inquiries or else abandon a purely truth-conditional approach to meaning. Either way, there are severe repercusssions for our understanding of locutions that appear to meak ereference to modality and causation.

"Logical Form, Binding, and Minimalism"

Over tha last few years, Chomsky has argued for what he calls a "minimalist" program in linguistics. In this talk, I shall attempt to show that reflections on what seems be required in order to provide a philosophically useful theory of "logical form" lead naturally to a conception of syntax that is very close to the conception Chomsky appears to have in mind. To put things another way, I shall outline a research program in syntax and semantics that seems to explain (i) why formal languages have tended to look the way they do, (ii) the empirical and philosophical demands placed on a theories of variable-binding and logical form, (iii) what was right-and what was very wrong-about talk of "LF", (iv) what was right about generative semantics (before it went nuts), and (v) what is right about the idea that syntax is just a projection of lexical properties. I conclude with reflections on the philosophical connections between these thoughts and the conclusions of the previous lecture.

For further information, contact:


Ruth Margaret Kempson

Current Position:
. Professor of Linguistics, School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London. (1 January 1986 to present)
. Fellow of the British Academy (July 1989 to present)
. Member of Council of the British Academy (July 1993-July 1996)
. Head of Linguistics Department, School of Oriental & African Studies, (July 1992-July 1996)

. BA Degree in English and Music, University of Birmingham, July 1965.

. MA in Modern English Language (with distinction). University of London, July 1969

. PhD in Linguistics, University of London, "Presupposition and the Delimitation of Semantics". December 1973

Linguistics, semantics, syntax, pragmatics, linguistics and communication, applications of logic in linguistics.

Selection of Published Works
(1975) Presupposition and the Delimitation of Semantics. Cambridge University Press.

(1977) Semantic Theory. Cambridge University Press.

(1981b) (jointly with A.Cormack) 'Ambiguiity and quantification', Linguistics and Philosophy 4, 259-309.

(1988a) (ed.) Mental Representations: The Interface Between Language and Reality. Cambridge University Press.

(1992a) (with D.Gabbay) 'Natural-Language content: a proof-theoretic perspective' in M.Stokhof & P.Dekker (eds.), Proceedings of the 8th Amsterdam Formal Semantics Colloquium. Amsterdam

(1994) (with D.Gabbay, J.V.Pitt) 'Labelled abduction and relevance reasoning' in Demolombe et al Nonstandard queries from Databases. Oxford University Press.

(1995) (ed.) Deduction and Language, A special issue of the Bulletin of the Interest Group in Pure and Applied Logics.

(1996) 'Semantics, Pragmatics and Natural Language Interpretation' in Lappin, S. (ed.) Handbook of Contemporary Semantic Theory. Blackwell.

Stephen R. A. Neale

Current Position:
. Associate Professor of Philosophy, Chair of Logic and Methodology of Science Department of Philosophy, Moses Hall, UC Berkeley, Berkeley CA, 94720, USA. (6/93 - present)
. Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, Birkbeck College, University of London, Malet Street, London WCIE 7HX, United Kingdom.
. Member of the Editorial Board of
Natural Language Semantics.

1/84 - 8/88 Stanford University. Ph.D. in Philosophy, 9/88.
8/83 - 1/84 M.I.T. Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, Linguistics Ph.D. Program
9/80 - 6/83 University College, London. BA (Hons.) First Class, Linguistics, 6/83.

1994/95 President's Fellow, University of California
1995 Scholar in Residence, Rockefeller Center, Villa Serbelloni, Bellagio, Italy.

Selected Publications:

. Descriptions. The MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1990.
. The Language of Philosophy (To be submitted to Cambridge University Press)
. Introduction to the Philosophy of Language (Textbook), Westview/ Oxford University Press, forthcoming.

Research Articles (a selection):
. "Slingshots and Boomerangs." Mind 106 (1997), forthcoming.

. "A Kripkean Argument Against Identity Theories of Mind and a Davidsonian Response". Forthcoming in U. Zeglen (ed.) "Donald Davidson and the Philosophy of Language", 1997, forthcoming.

. "Midescriptions and Multiple Propositions." Forthcoming in P. Leonardi (ed.) "Essays in Honor of Keith Donnellan", Oxford: Blackwell, 1997.

. "The Philoshophical Significance of Godel's Slingshot", Mind 104 (1995), pp. 761-825.

. "The Place of Language", Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society XCIV (1994), pp. 215-227.

. "Logical Form and LF". In C. Otero (ed.) "Noam Chomsky: Critical Assessments" London: Routledge and Kegan Paul (1994), pp. 788-838.

. "What is Logical Form?". In D. Prawitz and D. Westerstahl (eds.) "Logic, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science", Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1994, pp. 232-245.

. "Term Limits", Philosophical Perspectives 7 (1993), pp. 89-124. . "Grammatical Form, Logical Form, and Incomplete Symbols". In A.D. Irvine and G.A. Wedeking (eds.), "Russell and Analytic Philosophy", Toronto: University of Toronto Press (1993), pp. 97--139

. "Paul Grice and the Philosophy of Language". Linguistics and Philosophy 15, 5 (1992), pp. 509-559.

. "Indefinite Descriptions: In Defence of Russell." (with P.Ludlow) Linguistics and Philosophy 14, 2 (1991), pp. 171-202.

. "Descriptive Pronouns and Donkey Anaphora." The Journal of Philosophy 87, 3, (1990), pp. 113-150.