Barbara Partee

Barbara Hall Partee ( born June 23, 1940 as Barbara C. Hall in Englewood, New Jersey, USA) is Professor Emerita of Linguistics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She made outstanding contributions to the teaching of Montague grammar and formulated the named after her Partee 's Puzzle.


From 1957 to 1961 Partee studied mathematics with minors in Russian and philosophy at Swarthmore College. In 1960, she came through a summer school at the University of Pennsylvania with current linguistics research into contact; were among the guest lecturers Zellig S. Harris, Jerry Katz and Jerry Fodor. After her first degree, she went to a newly established graduate school at MIT and won Noam Chomsky 's supervision.

In 1965 she completed her dissertation and went to UCLA as an Assistant Professor of Linguistics and from 1969 as an Associate Professor of Linguistics. There, she became increasingly interested in semantics; initially meant esp. Generative semantics. The philosopher David Kellogg Lewis finally drew attention to Richard Montague, who just began to use methods from formal logic for the description of natural languages. Partee was thrilled and soon began Montagues abstruse work for which it introduced the name Montague grammar to convey other linguists. After Montague's early death, she was instrumental in that his approach weiterverbeitete and gradually diversified into the research field of formal semantics.

In 1973 she went with her husband, the linguist Emmon Bach, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Partee published numerous own contributions including on quantifiers, type theory and semantics of tense. Lately she has been working for the genitive of negation in Russian.

Partee 's Puzzle

Partee 's puzzle is from the set I did not turn off the stove. ( = I have not turned off the oven. ). The problem is this: The non- negated output set I turned off the stove refers to a specific point in time at which the furnace was turned off; e.g. yesterday at 15:23 h The negation now does not imply that this turning is not going to happen around 15:23. Instead this negated proposition that ( eg yesterday afternoon ) was not turned off throughout the relevant time interval. Partee showed that the conventional analysis, which is the negation of the event does not generate the proper reading.

Private life

In his first marriage Partee was married from 1966 to 1971 with Morriss Henry Partee, by whom she has three children. Since then she has the name Barbara Hall Partee. From 1973 to 1996 she was married to the linguists Emmon Bach, with whom she taught jointly at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In 1997 she married the Russian linguist Vladimir Borschev ( Владимир Борщев ) and has since been living half a year, alternately in Moscow and Amherst.


Barbara Partee was president of the Linguistic Society of America ( 1986), received an honorary doctorate from Swarthmore College ( 1989) and Charles University (1992 ), was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1984 ) and included in the National Academy of Sciences (1989). In 1992 she was awarded the Max Planck Research Prize together with Hans Kamp.


  • B. H. Partee, A. ter Meulen, R. E. Wall: Mathematical Methods in Linguistics, Dordrecht, among other things: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1990.

Pictures of Barbara Partee