Research

Primary research interests: Syntax, semantics, and the interface between them, particularly argument structure, event structure, aspect, scales and gradability.

Research languages: English, Wolof, Italian, Mandarin Chinese, Breton.

 

Dissertation: Stative predication and semantic ontology 

My dissertation investigates empirical motivations for states as basic entities in the semantic ontology. This involves refining what is meant by “state denoting” and “stative” in the lexical realm and taking into account crosslinguistic variation. I identify several challenges faced by standard model theoretical approaches to stative meanings, including stative verbal relations like love and resemble and property concepts like red and happy, and ultimately propose a unified solution.

Full dissertation (2015)

The semantics of the implicative verbs manage and get 

Joint work with Itamar Francez. This work explores the inferential profile of the implicative verb manage.
Handout from the 19th International Congress of Linguists, July 2013

Earlier solo work focused on similarities in the semantics of manage and causative get. Handout from the UChicago Workshop on Semantics and Philosophy of Language, June 2012

Scalarity and derived statives

Based on the observation that adjectival participles are always gradable (the mostly cooled/eaten stew vs. *the mostly kicked/possessed ball), I propose a semantics for the derivation of adjectival participles which crucially targets scalar structure in the verb phrase.

Slides from WCCFL 31, February 2013
Paper from the Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 16, February 2012

Comparatives in Wolof

Draws on evidence from Wolof to argue that reduced clausal structure is not incompatible with exceed strategies of comparison.

Paper from the Proceedings of BLS 38

Extra-grammatical communication in Wolof

Joint work with Lenore Grenoble and Martina Martinovic. Descriptive research on a widely used system of verbal gestures in Wolof, including clicks, whistles, and hums.
Slides from ACAL 44, March 2013

Modeling variation and change in raddoppiamento sintattico

Uses a partially ordered constraint model to account for both diachronic change and synchronic variation in so-called ‘(phono)syntactic doubling’ and related phenomena in Italian.
Second qualifying paper, May 2011

Morphosyntax of causative constructions in English, Japanese, and Wolof

One of several projects related to my 2010 master’s thesis on the English get-causative. Drawing on Distributed Morphology accounts of Japanese -(s)ase causatives, I argue that the English light verb get functions as both an analytic and synthetic causative morpheme depending on the argument structure of its verbal complement. I provide additional support for this analysis with data from Wolof, which has a similarly flexible analytic causative suffix.

Effect of speaker attitude and sexual orientation on phonetic imitation

(Joint work with Yu, A., Abrego-Collier, C., Grano, T., Martinovic, M., Otte, C., Thomas, J., Urban, J.) Sociophonetic experiment testing effects of perceived sexual orientation and speaker attitude toward the interlocutor on the likelihood of imitation for extended VOT.

Breton consonant mutation

Presents inadequacies in phonological word-based accounts of initial consonant mutation in Breton and proposes an alternative approach in which mutation is conditioned by syntactic environment.

The middle construction in Mandarin Chinese

Explores whether resultative verb compounds (RVCs) without external arguments are properly analyzed as middles or passives.

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