sushi chefs doing patisserie

Move over Whitehead and Russell, the era of Van Craenenbroeck and Vanden Wyngaerd has begun:

Ok, admittedly "Van Craenenbroeck and Vanden Wyngaerd" doesn't have quite the same resonance or mouth feel to it as "Whitehead and Russell"—let alone the scope, breadth, and impact on the world of science as a whole—but I'm still pretty happy about and proud of this. You see, together with my colleague Guido Vanden Wyngaerd I wrote an intro textbook on formal semantics. A not unimportant tidbit of information in all of this is the fact that neither Guido nor I are, in fact, semanticists; we're both full-blooded syntacticians. The idea of two syntacticians writing a textbook on semantics might sound a lot like two sushi chefs instructing you in the fine art of patisserie: sure, you expect them to bring a high level of skill and dedication to the job, and they'll definitely be good at slicing and dicing stuff, but they do seem to lack the tools, materials, know-how, and even basic vocabulary to help you get the most out of your Schichttorte. Like any good disadvantage, though, this one too can be turned into an asset. The book Guido and I wrote is the semantics handbook for syntacticians: you have a basic grasp of how tree structures work, and you would like to know how to complement your insight into hierarchical structure with an understanding of what it means to merge two syntactic nodes into a single constituent. The book doesn't eschew formal semantic notation, but at the same time doesn't go overboard on it: you get what you need to be able to give a complete, explicit compositional semantic analysis of a basic syntactic structure. No more, no less.

As with everything in life, though, there's a catch: the book is in Dutch, thus rendering it difficult to read for all but roughly 0.00379% of the world's population. What I'd like suggest, is that you all contact Amsterdam University Press and request a version of this important book in your own native language. Maybe that way we'll be able to give Whitehead and Russell a run for their money after all.

  1. H/t to Freek Van de Velde for coming up with the comparison.

  2. Tried to Right Node Raise a demonstrative out of an AP-contained PP there. I'll let the native speakers among you be the judge as to how successful that was.