Peter Alrenga

Assistant Professor, Linguistics

Peter Alrenga
Office phone: 617-353-6221
Fax: 617-358-4641
Office number: 110
Office address: 621 Commonwealth Ave. Boston, MA 02215
Office hours: Spring 2014: leave of absence

BA, Stanford University
MA and PhD, 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:

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

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

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

    2005. A sentential subject asymmetry in English and its implications for complement selection. Syntax 8(3): 175-207. 2004. (with Jennifer Arnold, Thomas Wasow, and Ash Asudeh) Avoiding attachment ambiguities: The role of constituent ordering. Journal of Memory and Language 51(1): 55-70.


Fall 2014

Course number Course title Section Instructor Days Time Room

CAS LX 502

Semantics I

A1 Alrenga MWF 11-12 KCB 107
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.]
  • Satisfies CAS Divisional Studies course requirements for the Humanities.

CAS LX 504

Topics in Pragmatics

A1 Alrenga M 4-7 KCB 104
Covers the main areas of linguistic pragmatics, the study of language use and the relation between meaning and context. We will study pragmatic phenomena such as presuppositions, implicatures, anaphora, and focus, from the perspective of linguistic semantics. [Prereq: CAS LX 502 Semantics I or consent of instructor.]