Nirmalangshu Mukherji


Research Students

Language, Meaning and Communication: Bindu Miri 1992;

Chomsky and Autonomy of Syntax: Amresh Kumar 1992;

Naming and Ordinary Names: Monima Chadha 1993;

Knowledge of Language: Jaya Roy 1995;

Gender and Knowledge: Deepti Malhotra 1995;

Problem of Intentionality: Salva Garg 1997;

Problem of I-Semantics: Nilanjan Bhowmick 1998;

Concept of Silence: Gurbux Singh 2000;

Problem of False Beliefs, Mitsu Jain 2004;

Objectivity of Knowledge, Roshni Gupta 2004;

Understanding Graphical Expressions: Susrut Roy 2007;

Problem of Method in Linguistic Inquiry, Rimina Mohapatra 2008;

Internal Significance, Pallavi Worah 2008;

Two faces of Linguistic Inquiry, Rohini Yadav 2008;

Belief and Logical Form: Jaya Ray 2008. 


Recent Courses

Semantics and Linguistic significance, M.Phil (2007)

This course will examine the question, “What is a theory of language?” from one direction; there are others. It is well-known that one end of grammatical theory, called “LF” (for “Logical Form”) is semantically sensitive. It is also well-known that many classical semantic concerns such as truth-conditions and word meanings are not explained at the LF level. Can we then add a theory of truth (formal semantics) and a theory of word meaning (lexical semantics) to grammatical theory to reach a fuller theory of language? Will the proposed extended theories of language have explanatory significance?

Readings (to be supplemented as the course progresses)

1. Bertrand Russell, “On Denoting” (1905)

2. Hornstein & Weinberg, “Necessity of LF” (1991)

3. Robert May, “LF and Logical Form” (1990)

4. Stephen Neale, Descriptions, Chapters 1-2 (1990)

5. Alfred Tarski, “Semantic Conception of truth”

6. Davidson, “Truth and Meaning” (1967)

7. Larson & Segal, Knowledge of meaning, Chapters 3-5 (1995)

8. Noam Chomsky, New Horizons (2000)

9. Ray Jackendoff, Foundations of Language, Chapter 9 (2002)

10. W. Hinzen, Minimalism and Mind Design, Chapter 4 (2006)

11. J. Pustejovsky, Generative Theory of Lexicon, Chapter 1-3 (1995)

Language and Species-specificity, M. Phil (2006)

Descartes held that 'all men, the most stupid and the most foolish, those even who are deprived of the organs of speech, make use of signs, whereas the brutes never do anything of the kind; which may be taken for the true distinction between man and brute.' Language thus is one of the essences of being human. We examine this doctrine from a variety of empirical and theoretical directions to see if it is true; for example, how about song-birds? The basic methodological point is to show how rigorous scientific investigation can throw light on (some) classical philosophical questions. However, the options will be left open for further research.


Rene Descartes, Meditations [Any Edition]

A. Turing, 1950. “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” From Haugland (Ed.) Mind Design II, MIT Press 1997.

N. Chomsky, 1980. Rules and Representations, Blackwell.

N. Chomsky, 2000. New Horizons in the study of Language and Mind, Cambridge University Press.

N. Chomsky, 2002. On Nature and Language, Cambridge University Press.

N. Mukherji, 2000. The Cartesian Mind: Reflection on Language and Music, Indian Institute of Advanced Studies.

N. Mukherji, 2003. “Is CHL Linguistically Specific,” Philosophical Psychology, 16.2.

S. Brown, 2000. “The ‘Musilanguage’ Model of Music Evolution,” From Wallin, Merker and Brown (Eds.) The Origins of Music, MIT Press.

M. Hauser, 2001. “What’s so special about speech?” From Dupoux (Ed.), Language, Brain, and Cognitive Development, MIT Press.

M. Hauser, N. Chomsky and W. Fitch, 2002. “The faculty of language: what is it, who has it, and how did it evolve?,” Science.

S. Pinker, and R. Jackendoff, 2005. The faculty of language: what’s special about it? Cognition, 95(2), 201-36.

W. Fitch, M. Hauser and N. Chomsky, 2005. “The evolution of the language faculty: Clarifications and implications”, Cognition 97, 179–210.

Much additional material will be discussed, mentioned, assigned for further reading in class



Last updated December 2008