Itamar Francez

Faculty Photo
Associate Professor, Department of Linguistics
Rosenwald 229D
Office Hours: By Appointment
(415) 992-1547
Ph.D., Stanford University, 2006
Teaching at UChicago since 2012
Research Interests: Semantics, Pragmatics, Syntax-Semantics Interface, Linguistic Ideology

Dr. Itamar Francez works on semantics, pragmatics, and especially in how lexical, contextual, and pragmatic factors coalesce to bring about complex inferential behaviors. He also works on the role of interpretation in explaining morphological and morpho-syntactic generalizations within and across languages, and on the grammar of Hebrew. He is also interested in language ideologies and social, cultural and political questions surrounding language and speech. 

Recent Publications

2019-2020 Course Offerings

Introduction to Linguistics (LING 20001) - Autumn 2019

This course offers a brief survey of how linguists analyze the structure and the use of language. Looking at the structure of language means understanding what phonemes, words, and sentences are, and how each language establishes principles for the combinations of these things and for their use; looking at the use of language means understanding the ways in which individuals and groups use language to declare their social identities and the ways in which languages can change over time. The overarching theme is understanding what varieties of language structure and use are found across the world's languages and cultures, and what limitations on this variety exist.

Semantics and Pragmatics II (LING 30302) - Winter 2020

This is the second in a two-course sequence designed to provide a foundation in the scientific study of all aspects of linguistic meaning. The second quarter focuses on the syntax-semantics interface and cross-linguistic semantics. The class will introduce in detail a theory of the way in which the meaning of complex linguistic expressions is formed compositionally from the meaning of constituent parts, and the interaction of semantic and syntactic composition. This theory will form the basis for exploring some empirical questions about the systematicity of cross-linguistic variation in the encoding of meaning.

Syntax Seminar: Control (LING 46000) - Spring 2020

Course Description: TBD.

2020-2021 Course Offerings

Semantics and Pragmatics I (LING 30301) - Autumn 2020

This is the first in a two-course sequence designed to provide a foundation in the scientific study of all aspects of linguistic meaning. The first quarter focuses primarily on pragmatics: those aspects of meaning that arise from the way that speakers put language to use, rather than through the formal properties of the linguistic system itself, which is the domain of semantics. However, a central goal of the course will be to begin to develop an understanding of the relation between pragmatics and semantics, by exploring empirical phenomena in which contextual and conventional aspects of meaning interact in complex but regular and well-defined ways, and by learning analytical techniques that allow us to tease these two aspects of linguistics meaning apart.

Language and Violence (LING 23750) - Winter 2021

​​​​​​​Language is generally associated with the abstract realm of thought, representation and expression, a realm that contrasts sharply with the material realm in which we tend to place violence. Language is furthermore often seen as antithetical to violence: violence is outburst that comes when the rational order of language fails. In fact, however, questions of language, and especially of speech, surface in every aspect of thinking about violence. Speech is a medium within which violence is performed, and is part of the modern machinery of war. It is also a medium through which systems of oppression and subordination are articulated and registered by groups and individuals, socially and psychically. Violence relies on speech for its justification, rationalization, and sustenance. At the same time, the rawness of violence challenges our fundamental faith in the representational and expressive capacities of language, in both destructive and creative ways. This intensive reading seminar explores the relation between speech and violence through scholarly and literary texts from a variety of humanistic fields and traditions.

Seminar on Semantics: Formal Discourse Models (LING 42100)

Course Description: TBD.