Matt Wagers
associate professor | department of linguistics | uc santa cruz
psycholinguistics, language comprehension, memory, experimental syntax
mwagers (at) ucsc (dot) edu
231 Stevenson College
(831) 459-1550
? Office hours: W 10:30-12:30 (Spring '14)
lab meeting mailing list | fb


Fall '14
LING157 Undergraduate psycholinguistics
LING280 Experimental methods in linguistics
--- Co-offered with LING229 (Graduate syntax seminar)

Winter '14
LING80D Language and Mind

Spring '15
LING158 Advanced psycholinguistics (undergrad)
LING257 Graduate psycholinguistics

course archive


Google Scholar Page

downloadable papers

Chamorro Psycholinguistics na Project

Plural Semantics @ UCSC

mendeley (reference sharing)

- verbatim memory at a public lecture
- Obama's resumptive pronoun: verbatim memory on Twitter

almost work

Speech errors, unusual syntax

not work

chamorro psycholinguistics project
The real-time comprehension of wh-dependencies in a Wh-Agreement language
with Sandra Chung & Manuel F. Borja. To appear, Language. (April 2014 version)
Constituent order and parser control processes in Chamorro.
with Sandra Chung & Manuel F. Borja. 2014. Proceedings of the Austronesian Formal Linguistics Association.
Language processing in Chamorro: lessons from a language of the Pacific AAAS 2014 Annual Meeting.
Relative clause processing in Chamorro: overlapping pressures in an agreement-rich language CUNY 2014.
long-distance dependencies, memory and prediction
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)


My research and instruction asks questions about the mental data structures of syntactic representation and the interface between language structure and memory. For example:
  • how are linguistic representations segmented in memory?
  • what are the mechanisms for the prediction and retrieval of syntactic information?
  • how do linguistic feature systems control access to constituent encodings?
  • how do grammatical principles and extra-linguistic constraints interact?

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: Post-doc, New York University, advisor: Brian McElree
2008: Ph.D., Linguistics, Maryland, advisor: Colin Phillips
2003: A.B. (Honors), Molecular biology (Neuroscience), Princeton, advisor: Sam Wang
1999: Diploma, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics

Pranav Anand, Sandy Chung, Brian Dillon, Donka Farkas, Ellen Lau
Brian McElree, Colin Phillips, Jon Sprouse, Ming Xiang, Masha Polinsky
Nate Arnett, Adam Morgan, Joseph King, Caroline Andrews