Archive for the ‘lecture’ Category

Mon. : Writing up notes for the past two days, including this morning. Then attending the Ontology subject. Lots of new ideas. Will need to go with a PC next time. Had to leave 45 minutes earlier for my own lectures. Will need to learn more programming. Don’t know if I will be able to keep up with the pace. Then to the CBS303 lectures. Sold out all the textbooks by Lobner. Regretted not having ordered more. Ordered enough for CBS500 but may not be able to sell all. Which is better? Tried to talk up at the lecture theatre because the microphone was not functioning. Plus some students couldn’t help chatting among themselves. That is always the problem with undergraduates at large classrooms. Students should learn to be self-disciplined. Please don’t talk among yourselves while I am talking. Exhausted as a result. Didn’t know if I could survive the remaining days of the week.

Tue. : Could have been a day off because the seminars had not started, but had to go to PolyU to attend a prep meeting for the validation of Msc. therapy. Still hadn’t recovered from the Monday exhaustion but had to write notes for CBS500. Felt sleepy during the meeting and had nothing to do there. Left earlier.

Wed. : a day off, started with taking the heavy trumbo all the way to F’s school; preparing the DALS lecture notes for Thurs. by reading more of Neil Smith’s Chomsky: Ideas and Ideals. I do respect the generative paradigm a lot, but are sometimes put off by the attitudes of some of the staunch followers who acted as if only they had the whole truth. One repeated said during a lecture "Chomsky hasn’t heard about it. Chomsky doesn’t know about it. I am going to tell Chomsky about it." When each of the above sentences got uttered more than a dozen times, they became pause fillers. Pathetic!

Thurs. :saw the acquisition of Betty Birner’s new book Intro. Pragmatics by the PolyU Library in e-form. Experimented with the on-line reading. Then to PolyU. Discussed Y-3 undergraduates on final year project. Had a great night with research students teaching DALS 6050 Linguistic Theories. Wished I had prepared more on the Generative Paradigm. Walked with some nice participants on the campus. Two accidents. 1. Forgot to take the right U-disk, but got it during the break. 2. Forgot to take my mobile phone after the class, but got it back at the securities. Lucky. Got home but could not go to sleep. In fact, woke up only after 2 hours’ sleep. Thought it was because of the strong milk tea for supper. Thinking over the good moments of exchanges that evening in class. It was relaxing and fun, while everyone was serious and inquisitive.

Fri.: took the trumbo again for F’s to school. Then made a dash for PolyU to attend a confirmation viva. Got excited by the topic and talked a lot with the participants. Again it was relaxing and enjoyable, with serious contributions.

Administration wise, if things could go wrong, they would. Had to deal with appeals and potential appeals from …  And the afternoon was spent on Speech Therapy validation. Had to eat during the meeting to catch up with time so that I could go to my even lectures without a supper. Took the shuttle to HHB lecture theatre. Impressed by the classroom, which seemed to worth the travel. Gave a 3-hour lecture. Hope students could catch up with reading. May use the lecture notes as the main reading rather than the textbook. Did not finish the notes but got to the middle.

Lots of papers are approaching the deadlines. 6 of them. Need to work over them during the weekend.

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Part I

Basic operational information

First, the textbook we adopt for the first half of the semester is Understanding Semantics by Sebastian Löbner.

Link to the publisher’s site

Link to the author’s site [containing table of contents, errata, and solutions to exercises]


What is characteristic about this textbook:

Approaching meaning from three levels:

  • the language-internal level of meaning relations
  • the cognitive level of meanings as concepts in our minds
  • the objctive level of truth and reference

Offering a balanced treatment of lexical meaning and sentence meaning. It also includes subjects like non-descriptive maning and processes of interpretation beyond compositional meaning (JY. i.e. the building of word meaning into sentence meaning).

At stage 2 of this subject, i.e. CBS303, we will  study pragmatics, which is the study of utterance meaning. In an elective subject called Contrastive Rhetoric, CBS418, to be offered in semester 2, we study the art of language use, which will build on the study of utterance meaning.


Q: How to study semantics?

A: There is no royal way. But I believe we should try to reach a sympathetic understanding of the subject content while trying to maintain a critical/analytic attitude.


Resources for students:

1. Author’s website

2. Subject lecturer’s lecture notes and seminar summaries, posted at three places

All the above places provide discussion space, which I will check on a daily basis.

Face-to-face teaching:

1. Lectures, Monday afternoons [attendance will be checked]

2. Seminars (students’attendance is also compulsory): Q&A, exercises, checking understanding. Students will be invited to initiate the discussion on exercises.

3. Office hours: Thursday afternoons (3-5), for students who have attended both the lectures and the seminars but still have some extended questions to ask or issues to discuss with me and feel that internet communication is not efficient enough. (No discussion of irrelevant topics, please.) Appoints appreciated.


Assessment and evaluation:


  • weekly exercises, discussed in seminars, no grading
  • end-of-stage open-book test (90 minutes): graded, 25%, students who do all the exercises will be able to do the test well.
  • one essay discussing one chapter topic (excluding chapter 1-2): graded, 25% [due end of Nov.]


  • weekly exercises, discussed in seminars, no grading
  • end-of-stage open-book test (90 minutes): graded, 25%, students who do all the exercises will be able to do the test well.
  • one essay discussing one pragmatic phenomenon and providing a theoretical account: graded, 25% [due one week after the end of the semester]

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Please click the picture below to view a larger poster.
 It was one of those days when an eminent professor of my interested areas came from a faraway university and gave a revealing talk, and there were many at the lecture. The Q&A session was heated but very friendly and interesting. The dinner was sumptuous and reflected the festive mood of the Chinese New Year. The chatting over the dinner was of good humour, among the guest professor and local peers who were usually too busy to see one another often. Insider’s information from Johan on the journal <Linguistics> was extremely helpful. We digested and cogitated and did not forget to take photos, of us all, including the name tags and the banquet menu. Will chase for the photos, to be released here soon, hopefully!

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