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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. Epstein and Pires are primarily generative/minimalist syntacticians. Epstein has focused extensively on the development of derivational approaches to syntactic relations in minimalist syntax. Pires conducts research on Minimalism and comparative syntax, and has also focused on theoretical and experimental investigation of the connections between generative/minimalist syntax, language acquisition and syntactic change. In addition to their related research interests, Epstein and Pires have co-chaired several Ph.D. dissertations. Ezra Keshet conducts research in semantics; his work interfaces with syntax, pragmatics, discourse and he is also interested in computational semantics. Marlyse Baptista uses the generative/Minimalist linguistics framework to study various issues in creole languages, including the syntax and semantics of bare nouns and DPs, complementizers and pro-drop phenomena. Jon Brennan conducts experimental research in neurolinguistics with a focus on syntax, semantics and their interface. 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 are also regular visitors in the department, working closely with the faculty and students interested in syntax the department.


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

Steven Abney
Computational linguistics, particularly parsing and language learning

Emily Atkinson
Acquisition, syntax, psycholinguistics

Marlyse Baptista
Morphology/syntax interface in pidgin and creole languages, syntactic theory, cognition, contact linguistics

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

Samuel Epstein
Syntax (Principles & Parameters, Minimalism), psycholinguistics (first and second language acquisition, parsing), generative linguistics, philosophy of science

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

Hisatsugu Kitahara (visiting faculty)
Syntactic theory, Principles & Parameters, Minimalism, Japanese syntax

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