University of Massachusetts Amherst │ Amherst, Massachusetts
For her foundational contributions that synthesize insights from linguistics, philosophy, logic, and psychology to understand how words and sentences combine to express meaning in human language.
A teacher, scholar, and thinker as original and wide-ranging as Barbara Partee is rare. Currently professor emerita of linguistics and philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Partee is one of the pioneers of the burgeoning field of linguistics, a field that has had broad impacts on everything from psychology to artificial intelligence. In particular, Partee has been instrumental in forging new connections between formal logic and natural language. Language is ultimately a code, encoded by a speaker to be interpreted by a listener. Partee applies concepts in logic and semantics to untangle that code. Her work opened a new field of linguistics—she is considered the founder of formal semantics. Partee’s contributions to understanding language, in a way that envelops linguistics, philosophy, logic, and psychology, have been key shaping concepts in computer science and cognitive science.