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Syntax and Semantics

The faculty specializing in syntax and semantics share an interest in developing explanatory, restrictive theories of human syntactic and semantic knowledge. Natasha Abner focuses on the theoretical framework of generative linguistics across modalities, studying the morphosyntax and semantics of both established and emerging sign languages; her research also examines issues at the syntax-semantics interface for both signed and spoken languages as well as the representation of linguistic analysis in formal language theory. Jon Brennan conducts experimental research in neurolinguistics with a focus on syntax, semantics and their interface.  Ezra Keshet conducts research in semantics; his work interfaces with syntax, pragmatics, discourse and he is also interested in computational semantics. Acrisio Pires is a generative/minimalist syntactician who does research and advises PhD students in syntactic theory and comparative syntax, also considering the connection between syntactic theory, minimalism and crosslinguistic variation.

Jon Brennan, Rick Lewis and Julie Boland develop and test psycholinguistic and computational theories of syntactic, semantic and lexical information flow during sentence processing. Each one of the faculty members in the syntax-semantics research group has strong interdisciplinary outlook. Daniel Seely (Eastern Michigan University), Hisatsugu Kitahara (Keio University, Japan) both carry out research in Minimalism syntax, and have also held a long-term connection to the department, interacting with faculty and students interested in minimalist syntax.



Natasha Abner
Acquisition, fieldwork, semantics, syntax, psycholinguistics, morphosyntax

Steven Abney
Computational linguistics, particularly parsing and language learning

Jonathan Brennan
Neurolinguistics, syntax-semantics interface, syntactic and semantic parsing, incremental semantic representations

Jeff Heath
Morphology, Lexicon, NW & W Africa, Australia

Ezra Keshet
Semantics, syntax-semantics interface, pragmatics and discourse

Lisa Levinson
Semantics, psycholinguistics, morphosyntax, verbs, events, argument structure

Elaine McNulty
First language acquisition, syntax, neurolinguistics

Savi Namboodiripad
Acquisition; bilingualism; fieldwork; historical linguistics; language contact; language variation; psycholinguistics; syntax

Acrisio Pires
Syntactic theory, Minimalism, comparative syntax and morphosyntax, language acquisition, bilingualism, syntactic change, syntax-semantics interface


Other Affiliated Faculty

Rick Lewis (Psychology, EECS and Linguistics)
Computational Modeling, Psycholinguistics, Sentence Processing, Cognitive Architectures, Unified Theories of Cognition

Julie Boland (Psychology and Linguistics) Psycholinguistics, sentence comprehension and parsing, lexical representation, lexical/syntactic interface, syntax-semantics interface, computational models of processing

Richmond Thomason (Philosophy, EECS, and Linguistics)
Semantics, pragmatics, philosophy of language, computational linguistics

Kazuko Hiramatsu (University of Michigan, Flint)
Acquisition of syntax, experimental syntax

Teresa Satterfield (Romance Languages)

Jamie Tappenden (Philosophy)

Annemarie Toebosch (Germanic Languages and Literatures)

Jindrich Toman (Slavic Languages and Literatures)

Current PhD Students in Syntax and Semantics