Matt Wagers

language comprehension
experimental syntax

mwagers (at) ucsc (dot) edu
231 Stevenson College
(831) 459-1550
Office hours F/W: App't only.
lab meeting mailing list
supplemental materials
  Fall 2015/Winter 2016
On sabbatical
☕︎course archive
Chamorro Psycholinguistics na Project
☁︎ About

My research and instruction asks questions about the mental data structures of syntactic representation and the interface between language structure and memory. For example:

An important current research project is incremental comprehension in Chamorro. Chamorro is a verb-initial Austronesian language with an intricately interacting system of movement, case, and agreement. My collaborators and I are investigating how syntax-morphology interactions impact the comprehender's expectations and how different sources of expectation guide early interpretation. This forms part of an effort to increase the contribution to psycholinguistic theory made by 'small' languages. We conduct our research in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. With: Sandra Chung (UCSC) and Manuel F. Borja (Inetnon Åmot yan Kutturan Natibu, CNMI; [photo]). Our research is supported by the NSF (Award #1251429).

I've also worked on appropriate methods for eliciting judgments in semantics/pragmatics experiments (joint work with Pranav Anand, & Donka Farkas).


2009- Department of Linguistics, University of California, Santa Cruz
2009 Post-doc, New York University
advisor: Brian McElree
2008 Ph.D., Linguistics, Maryland
Dissertation: The structure of memory meets memory for structure in linguistic cognition, advisor: Colin Phillips
2003 A.B. (Honors), Molecular biology (Neuroscience), Princeton
Thesis: "Optimization of Neocortical White Matter under Constraints of Time and Space", advisor: Sam Wang
1999 Diploma, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics

☃☃ lab members and collaborators
Nate Arnett, Karl Devries, Jed Sam Pizarro Guevara
Scarlett Clothier-Goldschmidt (MA '15), Chelsea Miller (MA)
Jake Vincent (BA '15; Chamorro Psycholinguistics Fellow)
grad Adam Morgan (MA '13), Matt Tucker (PhD '13), Boris Harizanov (PhD '14)
undergrad Sylvia Soule, Shawna Mattison, Sarah Napoli, Emily Pendleton, Joseph King (NYU Abu Dhabi), Caroline Andrews (UMass), Shayne Sloggett (UMass)
Pranav Anand, Manny F. Borja, Sandy Chung, Brian Dillon,
Donka Farkas, Julie Franck, Ellen Lau, Brian McElree, Colin Phillips, Masha Polinsky, Jon Sprouse, Ming Xiang
Frontiers in Psychology special topic: Encoding and navigating linguistic representations in memory. Co-edited with Claudia Felser & Colin Phillips.

☄ Recent research

Structuring Expectation
Slides from keynote talk at WCCFL33, Mar 27-29, 2015, Simon Fraser U., Vancouver
Licensing Animacy in Relative Clause Comprehension, with Emily Pendleton
CUNY2015 Posters (University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA)
Hierarchical structure and retrieval mechanisms in agreement attraction:
evidence from probe recognition in French Jabberwocky

with Julie Franck.
Grammatical person, pronouns and the processing asymmetry in relative clauses
with Scarlett Clothier-Goldschmidt.
chamorro psycholinguistics project with Sandra Chung & Manuel F. Borja.
The real-time comprehension of wh-dependencies in a Wh-Agreement language
March, 2015. Language, 91, 109-144. doi:10.1353/lan.2015.0001 (PDF)
Constituent order and parser control processes in Chamorro.
August 2014. Proceedings of the Austronesian Formal Linguistics Association.
- AAAS 2014. Language processing in Chamorro: lessons from a language of the Pacific.
- CUNY 2014. Relative clause processing in Chamorro: overlapping pressures in an agreement-rich language.
The Chamorro language across islands and generations.
September 2014. Slides from a series of public presentations in the CNMI, on what's (not) changing in the comprehension of relative clauses across different generations of speakers.
long-distance dependencies, memory and prediction
The structure-sensitivity of memory access: evidence from Mandarin Chinese
with Brian Dillon, Wing Yee Chow, Taomei Guo, Fengqin Liu & Colin Phillips.
August 2014. Frontiers in Psychology: Language Sciences.
Memory mechanisms for wh-dependency formation and their implications for islandhood
February 2014. In Sprouse, J. & Hornstein, N. Experimental Syntax and Island Effects. Cambridge UP.
Going the distance: memory and control processes in active dependency formation
with Colin Phillips.
August 2013. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.
Gap acceptability predicts resumption rate in English
with Adam Morgan (lead); August 2013; Presented at AMLaP 2013
Processing covert dependencies: an SAT study on Mandarin Wh-in-situ questions
with Ming Xiang (lead), Brian Dillon, Fengqin Liu & Taomei Guo, March 2013.
Journal of East Asian Linguistics.
Islands don't reflect WM constraints
A test of the relation between working memory capacity and syntactic island effects
with Jon Sprouse & Colin Phillips, Language (March 2012 issue)
And Working memory capacity and island effects: a reminder of the issues and the facts
(A reply to commentary generated by our first article; first comment, second comment)