Barbara Partee

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Barbara Partee
Barbara partee.jpg
Born (1940-06-23) June 23, 1940 (age 76)
Englewood, New Jersey, United States
Nationality American
Alma mater Swarthmore College
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Occupation Linguist

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. 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, and did graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under Noam Chomsky.[2]

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. During her time at UMass Amherst, she has taught numerous students who would become notable linguists including Gennaro Chierchia and Irene Heim.[3]

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.[4] 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.

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.


Honors she received include the presidency of the Linguistic Society of America (1986), honorary doctorates from Swarthmore College(1989), Charles University in Prague (1992), Copenhagen Business School (2005), and University of Chicago (2014), election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1984) 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.[5]


  1. ^ a b Biography page at UMass
  2. ^ International Linguistics Community Online
  3. ^
  4. ^ Richard Holton (2003): David Lewis's Philosophy of Language. Mind & Language 18(3), 286-295.
  5. ^ "B.H. Partee". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 13 February 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2016. 

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