Peter Alrenga

Assistant Professor of Linguistics
Peter Alrenga
Office phone: 617-353-6221
Fax: 617-358-4641
Office number: Linguistics 110
Office address: Linguistics Program, 621 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02215
Office hours: Spring 2016: M 4-5:30; T 2-3:30 (or other times, by appointment)

BS, Symbolic Systems (Natural Language Focus), Stanford University
MA and PhD, Linguistics, University of California, Santa Cruz

Prof. Alrenga joined the BU Linguistics program in September 2009, after a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in Semantics in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Chicago, where he worked with Prof. Chris Kennedy on an NSF-funded project on the "Parameters of Comparison."

Prof. Alrenga's research interests lie in semantics, syntax, and pragmatics. Particular topics include the structure and interpretation of comparative constructions; gradability, scalarity, and vagueness; (in)definiteness and anaphora; and negation. He teaches courses in formal semantics, pragmatics, and general linguistics.

Recent publications:

    2014. Peter Alrenga and Christopher Kennedy, No more shall we part: Quantifiers in English comparatives. In Natural Language Semantics 22: 1-53.

    2012. Peter Alrenga, Christopher Kennedy, and Jason Merchant, A New Standard of Comparison. In Proceedings of the 30th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, Nathan Arnett and Ryan Bennett (eds.), pp. 32-42.

    2010. Peter Alrenga, Comparisons of similarity and difference. In Adjectives: Formal Analyses in Syntax and Semantics, P. Cabredo Hofherr and Ora Matusansky (eds), pp. 155-186. Amsterdam, John Benjamins.

    2009. Peter Alrenga, Types, tokens, and identity. In Proceedings of The 38th Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society (NELS 38).

    2006. Peter Alrenga, Scalar (non-)identity and similarity. In Proceedings of The 25th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (WCCFL 25).

    2005. Peter Alrenga, A sentential subject asymmetry in English and its implications for complement selection. Syntax 8(3): 175-207.

    2004. Arnold, Jennifer, Thomas Wasow, Ash Asudeh, and Peter Alrenga, Avoiding attachment ambiguities: The role of constituent ordering. Journal of Memory and Language 51(1): 55-70.


Spring 2016

Course number Course title Section Instructor Days Time Room

CAS EN 514

Topics: The Linguistics of Contemporary English

web A1 Alrenga TR 9:30-11 KCB 103
[see CAS LX 406] [Prereq: CAS LX 250]

CAS LX 406

The Linguistics of Contemporary English

web A1 Alrenga TR 9:30-11 KCB 103
Systematic introduction to the linguistic analysis of modern English (phonology, morphology, syntax) from the perspective of generative grammar. Other topics include: English and its West Germanic relatives, non-standard varieties and the development of standard English, varieties of World Englishes. [Note that this will count as a course in the linguistic analysis of a specific language for purposes of satisfying requirements for the Linguistics major.] Also offered as CAS EN 514. [Prereq: CAS LX 250 Introduction to Linguistics or consent of instructor.]

CAS LX 502

Semantics I

web A1 Alrenga TR 12:30-2 CAS 322
Semantics is the study of linguistic meaning. In this course, we will examine meaning from a variety of perspectives, including: how it is encoded in words and sentences, how native speakers interpret language, and how truth and falsehood can emerge from the complexity of the grammar. We will also touch on various aspects of pragmatics - the function of meaning in a communicative setting. [Prereq: CAS LX 250 Introduction to Linguistics or consent of instructor.]
  • Carries humanities divisional credit in CAS.