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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Stephen M Wechsler

Professor Ph.D., Stanford University

T C 357 • What You And I Mean

43150 • Spring 2013
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm PAR 305
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Description:

First and second person pronouns such as “I” and “you”, which are examples of indexical forms, have posed a profound puzzle for philosophers, linguists, and other scholars. It may seem obvious that these pronouns refer to the speaker and the hearer, respectively, but that answer turns out to be inadequate. This course takes a multi-disciplinary approach to this issue, involving material from philosophy, linguistics, and developmental psychology.

We start by reviewing some of the 20th century philosophical literature on two closely related issues: the problem of the essential indexical; and self-ascription (reference de se). We then turn to linguistic studies of personal pronoun systems from languages around the world, which have revealed mysterious and unexpected universal patterns. Next we establish some background in the concept of Theory of Mind, that is, our ability, as humans, to impute mental states to others. Finally, we consider pronoun use by normally developing children, and by children with autism.

Texts/Readings:

Part I. The philosophical problem of the essential indexical.

Frege, Gottlob. 1918. The Thought: a Logical Enquiry. Trans. A. M. and Marcelle Quinton. Philosophical Logic, Oxford University Press (1967): 17-38.

Perry, John. 1979. The problem of the essential indexical. Noûs 13: 3-21.

 

Part II. Self-ascription (reference de se)

Mitchell, Jonathan E. 1986. ‘Perspectivity at the linguistic level’. Ch. 1 of The formal semantics of point of view. PhD dissertation, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Richard, Mark. 1983. Direct reference and ascriptions of belief. Journal of Philosophical Logic 12, no. 4: 425-452.

Crimmins, Mark, and John Perry. 1989. The prince and the phone booth: reporting puzzling beliefs. The Journal of Philosophy: 685-711.

Crimmins, Mark. 1992. Talk about beliefs. MIT Press. (excerpt)

 

Part III. Linguistics of person marking in the world’s languages.

Bobaljik, Jonathan David. 2008. Missing Persons: A Case Study in Morphological Universals. The Linguistic Review 25: 203-230.

Cysouw, Michael. 2003. The Paradigmatic Structure of Person Marking. Oxford University Press. (excerpt)

 

Part IV. Theory of mind.

Premack, David, and Guy Woodruff. 1978. Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind? The Behavioral and Brain Sciences 1, no. 4: 515-526.

Wimmer, H., and J. Perner. 1983. Beliefs about beliefs: Representation and constraining function of wrong beliefs in young children’s understanding of deception. Cognition 13: 103–128.

 

Part V. Pronoun use by children

Loveland, Katherine A. 1984. Learning about points of view: spatial perspective and the acquisition of 'I/you'. Journal of Child Language 11: 535-556.

Baron-Cohen, Simon, Alan M Leslie, and Uta Frith. 1985. Does the autistic child have a “theory of mind”? Cognition 21: 37–46.

Tager-Flusberg, Helen. 1994. Dissociations in Form and Function in the Acquisition of Language by Autistic Children. In Constraints on Language Acquisition: Studies of Atypical Children, ed. Helen Tager-Flusberg, 175-194. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

 

Assignments:

This course will be primarily based on guided discussion. In a typical class meeting, students will be presented with a list of discussion questions on the reading. We go around the room; the first student is asked to take the first question, with the option of passing to the next student. A student’s answer becomes the springboard for class discussion (40% of grade). (Some areas involving more specialized knowledge will be presented in a lecture format first.) Students will choose any three of the five Parts of the course (see above). They will write three short literature reviews, including also some original discussion, one on each chosen Part (2-3 pages each, 30% of grade). They will write a 10-15 page term paper requiring research beyond the required readings, in three stages: a brief proposal of their intended topic, which must be approved by me; a rough draft; and the final paper (30% of grade).

 

About the Professor:

Stephen Wechsleris an Associate Professor of Linguistics.  He holds a PhD in Linguistics from Stanford University.  A specialist in syntactic theory, his research focuses on two interface areas: the interface between syntax and word meaning (‘argument structure’); and the interface between syntax and morphology (‘morphosyntax’).  The first area is the subject of his 1995 book The Semantic Basis of Argument Structure.  His second book (The Many Faces of Agreement; with Larisa Zlatić, 2005) addresses morphosyntax, focusing on grammatical agreement in person, number, and gender.  His recent work in that area investigates personal pronouns such as ‘you’ and ‘I’ from a multi-disciplinary perspective that includes developmental psychology, philosophy, and linguistics.  He is also currently at work on a book-length overview of scholarship on word meaning and its relation to syntax (to be published by Oxford University Press).

 

T C 357 • What You And I Mean

42895 • Fall 2010
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm CAL 419
show description

Description:

First and second person pronouns such as “I” and “you”, which are examples of indexical forms, have posed a profound puzzle for philosophers, linguists, and other scholars. It may seem obvious that these pronouns refer to the speaker and the hearer, respectively, but that answer turns out to be inadequate. This course takes a multi-disciplinary approach to this issue, involving material from philosophy, linguistics, and developmental psychology.

We start by reviewing some of the 20th century philosophical literature on two closely related issues: the problem of the essential indexical; and self-ascription (reference de se). We then turn to linguistic studies of personal pronoun systems from languages around the world, which have revealed mysterious and unexpected universal patterns. Next we establish some background in the concept of Theory of Mind, that is, our ability, as humans, to impute mental states to others. Finally, we consider pronoun use by normally developing children, and by children with autism. See below for a reading list.

Texts/Readings:

Part I. The philosophical problem of the essential indexical.

Frege, Gottlob. 1918. The Thought: a Logical Enquiry. Trans. A. M. and Marcelle

         Quinton. Philosophical Logic, Oxford University Press (1967): 17-38.

Perry, John. 1979. The problem of the essential indexical. Noûs 13: 3-21.

Part II. Self-ascription (reference de se)

Mitchell, Jonathan E. 1986. ‘Perspectivity at the linguistic level’. Ch. 1 of The formal semantics of          point of view. PhD dissertation, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Richard, Mark. 1983. Direct reference and ascriptions of belief. Journal of Philosophical Logic 12,          no. 4: 425-452.

Crimmins, Mark, and John Perry. 1989. The prince and the phone booth: reporting

         puzzling beliefs. The Journal of Philosophy: 685-711.

Crimmins, Mark. 1992. Talk about beliefs. MIT Press. (excerpt)

Part III. Linguistics of person marking in the world’s languages.

Bobaljik, Jonathan David. 2008. Missing Persons: A Case Study in Morphological

         Universals. The Linguistic Review 25: 203-230.

Cysouw, Michael. 2003. The Paradigmatic Structure of Person Marking. Oxford

         University Press. (excerpt)

Part IV. Theory of mind.

Premack, David, and Guy Woodruff. 1978. Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind? The          Behavioral and Brain Sciences 1, no. 4: 515-526.

Wimmer, H., and J. Perner. 1983. Beliefs about beliefs: Representation and constraining function of          wrong beliefs in young children’s understanding of deception. Cognition 13: 103–128.

Part V. Pronoun use by children 

Loveland, Katherine A. 1984. Learning about points of view: spatial perspective and the acquisition          of 'I/you'. Journal of Child Language 11: 535-556.

Baron-Cohen, Simon, Alan M Leslie, and Uta Frith. 1985. Does the autistic child have a “theory of          mind”? Cognition 21: 37–46.

Tager-Flusberg, Helen. 1994. Dissociations in Form and Function in the Acquisition of Language by          Autistic Children. In Constraints on Language Acquisition: Studies of Atypical Children, ed.          Helen Tager-Flusberg, 175-194. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Assignments:

This course will be primarily based on guided discussion. In a typical class meeting, students will be presented with a list of discussion questions on the reading. We go around the room; the first student is asked to take the first question, with the option of passing to the next student. A student’s answer becomes the springboard for class discussion (40% of grade). (Some areas involving more specialized knowledge will be presented in a lecture format first.) Students will choose any three of the five Parts of the course (see below). They will write three short literature reviews, including also some original discussion, one on each chosen Part (2-3 pages each, 30% of grade). They will write a 10-15 page term paper requiring research beyond the required readings, in three stages: a brief proposal of their intended topic, which must be approved by me; a rough draft; and the final paper (30% of grade).

About the Professor:

Stephen Wechsler is Associate Professor of Linguistics at UT, where he has served on the faculty since 1991. A specialist in syntactic theory, his two main research areas are the syntax-lexical semantics interface and morphosyntax, especially agreement and case. His first book, The Semantic Basis of Argument Structure (CSLI, 1995) addresses the first area, and his second book, The Many Faces of Agreement (coauthored with Larisa Zlatic•, CSLI, 2003) addresses the second area. His third book, tentatively titled The Syntax-Lexicon Interface (Oxford University Press, in progress) will return to the first area. He holds a BA in English from the University of California at Berkeley, and a PhD in Linguistics from Stanford University. When he is not doing linguistics, he is often riding his bike, playing the guitar, or doing figure drawing and portraits. 

Publications

Stephen Wechsler's publications list can be found here: https://sites.google.com/site/wechslerpublications/

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