Barbara Partee

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Barbara Partee
Barbara partee.jpg
Born (1940-06-23) June 23, 1940 (age 78)
Alma materSwarthmore College
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Barbara Hall Partee (born June 23, 1940) is a Distinguished University Professor Emerita of Linguistics and Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.[1] She is one of the founders of contemporary formal semantics in the United States, the author of a number of influential works.[2] She retired from UMass in September 2004.[1]


Born in Englewood, New Jersey, Partee grew up in the Baltimore area. She attended Swarthmore College, where she majored in mathematics with minors in Russian and philosophy. She did her graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under Noam Chomsky.[3] Her 1965 PhD dissertation from MIT was entitled Subject and Object in Modern English.[4]

Partee began her professorial career at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1965 as an associate professor of linguistics. She taught there until 1972, when she transferred to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, soon becoming a full professor.[5] During her time at UMass Amherst, she has taught numerous students who would become notable linguists including Gennaro Chierchia and Irene Heim.

Through her interactions with the philosopher and logician Richard Montague at UCLA in the 1970s she played an important role in bringing together the research traditions of generative linguistics, formal logic, and analytic philosophy, pursuing an agenda pioneered by David Lewis in his 1970 article General Semantics.[6] She helped popularize Montague's approach to the semantics of natural languages among linguists in the United States, especially at a time when there was a lot of uncertainty about the relation between syntax and semantics.[7][8]

In her later years she has become increasingly interested in a new kind of intellectual synthesis, forging connections to the tradition of lexical semantic research as it has long been practiced in Russia.[9]


Prof. Partee has received various honors, including the presidency of the Linguistic Society of America (1986),[10] honorary doctorates from Swarthmore College (1989), Charles University in Prague (1992), Copenhagen Business School (2005) and University of Chicago (2014), and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1984)[11] and the United States National Academy of Sciences (1989). In 1992, she received the Max-Planck-Forschungspreis (research award of the Max Planck Society; together with Hans Kamp). She has been a foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2002.[12] In 2006, she was inducted as a fellow in the Linguistic Society of America.[13] On January 8, 2018 she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Amsterdam for her pioneering work in formal semantics.[14] In July 2018 she was elected a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy.[15]


  • Partee, Barbara (1978), Fundamentals of Mathematics for Linguistics, Dordrecht: Springer, ISBN 978-9-02770-809-0.


  1. ^ a b Biography page at UMass
  2. ^ "Barbara H Partee - Google Scholar Citations". Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  3. ^ International Linguistics Community Online
  4. ^ "Alumni and their Dissertations – MIT Linguistics". Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  5. ^ "Barbara Partee, University of Massachusetts, Amherst". Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  6. ^ Holton, Richard (2003). "David Lewis's Philosophy of Language". Mind and Language. 18 (3): 286–295. doi:10.1111/1468-0017.00228.
  7. ^ Murphy, Koskela (2010). Key Terms in Semantics. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 206. ISBN 9781847062765.
  8. ^ Schiffer, Stephen (2015). "Meaning and Formal Semantics in Generative Grammar". Erkenntnis. 80 (1 Supplement): 61–87. doi:10.1007/s10670-014-9660-7.
  9. ^ "The Fulbright Program in Russia | Barbara H. Partee". Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  10. ^ "Presidents | Linguistic Society of America". Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  11. ^ "Partee, Barbara". AAAS - The World's Largest General Scientific Society. 2016-08-01. Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  12. ^ "B.H. Partee". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 13 February 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  13. ^ "LSA Fellows By Name". Linguistic Society of America. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  14. ^ "OnzeTaal Wat is de formule voor het woord struik?". Onze Taal. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  15. ^ "Record number of academics elected to British Academy | British Academy". British Academy. Retrieved 2018-07-22.

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