The semantics and psycholinguistics of subjective predicates

LoLa Introductoryweek 1 each day

Elsi Kaiser (University of Southern California)
Deniz Rudin (University of Southern California)


Abstract: Predicates of personal taste (PPTs) like "tasty" and "fun" have prompted much discussion in semantics and philosophy: We can disagree about whether the chili is tasty without either of us being obviously wrong. Philosophically, it's interesting how disagreements can be "faultless." Semantically, how can we capture whose taste is being expressed--by means of extra parameters, covert pronouns, generic operators? These theoretical problems are increasingly investigated using experimental methods. Psycholinguistic tools yield new kinds of data to apply to old questions about PPTs, and highlight new questions at the linguistics/psychology interface. In this advanced, interdisciplinary course, we present the classic observations and seminal proposals about PPTs that crosscut these disciplines, and highlight emerging routes forward in contemporary work, including questions about the class of relevant subjective predicates beyond classics like "tasty" and "fun." Students will learn about key theoretical debates and how to use experimental methods to investigate them.