HG8011: Detecting Meaning with Sherlock Holmes

Francis Bond (凡土.フランシス) , Jane Wong, Yeang Chui (黄仰翠) , Brian Bergen-Aurand, Uganda Sze Pui Kwan (關詩珮) .

Time and Place: Tue 16:30–19:30 (LT4: NS4-02-34)

In this elective we will detect how language conveys meaning, using examples taken from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. The course considers meaning from the smallest levels of words and morphemes, up through sentences to the stories as a whole. Finally, we consider how Sherlock Holmes stories have entered into popular culture, both through translation into other languages and into other media, such as films and TV.

In the first half of the course, we will look at how words convey meanings and how they can be combined to express richer meaning (semantics). We will show that meaning does not only come from the words themselves, but also from our own understanding of them, and that words can convey much more than simple truth-conditional meanings (pragmatics).

In the second half of the course, we will show how the stories (and other works adapted from them) convey meaning to the reader, as well as how the meaning becomes part of our cultural heritage.

Course Content

This course introduces basic skills in semantic and literary analysis, such as:

Course Page: http://compling.hss.ntu.edu.sg/courses/hg8011.

There is no set text-book, all the material is covered in the lectures. As a result, you need to actually come to the lectures. General guidelines to the course are given in lecture one. You must read at least three of the Sherlock Holmes' short stories, and will carry out detailed analysis of the meaning at various levels — this course has homework. However, it is designed to be as interesting as possible, and the stories are some of the most popular in the world.

Course Outline

LectureDateContent (click to download) Who Misc Assessment
1 2016-01-12 Introduction, Organization: Main Issues FB Sherlock Deduces (REDH, Granada)
Blackberry One Ronnie
2 2016-01-17 Theories of meaning and the meaning of words
What is a dog-cart?
FB Dead Parrot Monty Python
Simple Writer XKCD
3 2016-01-26 Sentence meaning and compositionality
the windows were blocked by old-fashioned shutters
FB? I want to cook with you IT Crowd Series 2 - Episode 3

Project 1: Disambiguation task
Due: 2016-02-12 23:59 (Fri)
4 2016-02-02 Quantification, Truth and Sentiment
Julia and I had no great pleasure in our lives
FB Argument Sketch Monty Python
🐵 🐒 Chinese New Year
5 2016-02-16 Idioms and Metaphors
to cross someone's path
FB Unique Alas Smith and Jones (1986)
Project 2: Comparison task
Due: 2016-03-04 23:59 (Fri)
6 2016-02-23 Pragmatics and Discourse FB The Apology Insufficiency The Big Bang Theory (S4E7)
- Recess
7 2016-03-08 Reading Sherlock Holmes (detective fiction as a genre) JW
Project 3: Sentiment
Due: 2016-04-01 23:59 (Fri)
8 2016-03-15 Reading Sherlock Holmes JW Deducing the Timeless Popularity of Sherlock Holmes CBS News January 19, 2014, 9:48 AM
The Red Headed League Granada Television (1985)
9 2016-03-22 The Great Game: Sherlock in Popular Culture; Sherlock Holmes and Herlock Sholmès FB Notes on Copyright Sherlockian.Net
Holmes and Watson That Mitchell and Webb Look
Project 4: Idioms and Metaphors
Due: 2016-04-15 23:59 (Fri)
10 2016-03-29 Screening Sherlock Holmes (i)
Room: LT19A
BA
Lecture: 5:30–7:30

The Speckled Band (1979 Polish-British TV show) (1/2) (1/2)
Quiz 1: Reading and Understanding 5:00–5:30
11 2016-04-05 Screening Sherlock Holmes (ii) BA The Adventure of the Dancing Men Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century (s1x11)
12 2016-04-12 Holmes in translation UK The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter (GREE)
13 2016-04-19 Review and Feedback
Room: LT1
FB

Quiz 2: Watching and Understanding 4:40–5:00

Required Reading

Other Resources

Assessment

My mind rebels at stagnation, give me problems, give me work! The Sign of Four

At the start of the semester you will be given a short passage from one of the stories that will be used by you throughout the course to study meaning. In the four projects you will examine and annotate different levels of meaning using on-line tools provided. This may be slightly harder if you are not a native speaker of English, but we will try to link to translations of the stories in as many languages as possible.

Project 1: Disambiguation (15%: individual work)

Identify and annotate word meaning for your own passage of one of the stories using wordnet as the sense inventory.

Project 2: Comparison (15%: group work)

Compare and contrast your annotations with other annotators; re-annotate based on your discussion and leave comments for at least five words.

Project 3: Sentiment (15%: individual work)

Identify and annotate sentiment for phrases from your own passage. Define 5 contexts.

Project 4: Idioms and Metaphors (15%: individual work)

Identify and annotate idioms and metaphors from your own passage. Simplify your passage

Quiz 1 (20%) (20 MCQ)

Demonstrate a general understanding of the material, including not limited to:

Quiz 2 (20%) (20 MCQ)

Demonstrate a general understanding of the material, including not limited to:

I would like to use the results of your analysis in projects 1--4 to help further in research on meaning. If you would like me not to use your input, you may email me at any time up to one week after you get your results for this semester. If you do so, I will discard your input. Otherwise, I will use it to find out more about meaning, and you will be credited as 'students in HG8011 (2016)'. I will also make it available for others to use under the same license as the materials I create (CC BY 4.0).


Creative Commons License
Course materials created by us are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.