Theoretical and Methodological Approaches to Animal Semantics: a Super Linguistic Introduction

LoLa Introductoryweek 2 each day

Patrick Georg Grosz (University of Oslo)
Mélissa Berthet (Ecole Normale Supérieure)

Website: TBA

Abstract: Animal linguistics investigates the linguistic (e.g., semantic and syntactic) properties of non-human animal communication systems, using a combined methodology from both linguistics and ethology. This course aims to introduce linguists to the field of animal linguistics (with a focus on animal semantics) and provide them with the core ethological and linguistic methods and tools needed to understand, criticize, and run an animal linguistic study - including study design, data collection, data extraction, and formal linguistic analysis. The course is structured as follows: we begin with a general introduction to animal linguistics, reviewing some of the key studies that legitimize the field. In classes two and three, we present the main ethological methods used to collect and process data on animal communication; we focus on two case studies: monkey vocalizations and great apes' gestures. Finally, in the last two classes we illustrate how formal semantic analyses can be applied to these data.