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Research interests

My research is within the field of formal semantics and pragmatics, grounded in data from Romance languages and Hungarian.  Areas that have been of particular interest to me are the semantics of mood, nominal semantics, and, more recently, context structure and the semantics and pragmatics of declarative and interrogative sentences.

In the area of the semantics of mood, my work has concentrated on the parameters that are responsible for mood distribution in relative and complement clauses aiming to capture both the cross-linguistic stability we find even across unrelated languages and the variation that exists even across closely related languages.

Within nominal semantics I have worked on issues concerning definiteness, indefiniteness and specificity, with particular attention paid to the distribution and interpretation of various types of indefinite noun phrases in English, Hungarian and Romanian.  The view I have pursued is that determiners encode constraints on variation or stability of witness choice across various parameters. In collaboration with H. de Swart, I explored the topic of the semantics of nominal incorporation, and the semantics and pragmatics of number in nominals. Problems connected to the scopal properties of indefinites have figured in my early work and are the subject of a 2011 paper in Linguistics and Philosophy written in collaboration with my colleague, Adrian Brasoveanu.

Issues related to context structure and the semantics and pragmatics of sentence types are a long-standing interest but a relatively recent topic of active research. The empirical problem that started my involvement in this area is the account of the distribution and interpretation of polarity particles (yes and no in English and their sisters across languages). On the theoretical level, this work falls within the recent theory of linguistic meaning known as inquisitive semantics. In collaboration with Floris Roelofsen, I am working on developing an approach to context structure and the semantics and pragmatics of sentence types that is able to capture similarities and differences across these types in a principled manner.


The PhD students I (co)-supervised are Cleo Condoravdi, Chris Kennedy, Christine Gunlogson, Lynsey Wolter, Peter Alrenga, James Isaacs, Kyle Rawlins, Scott AnderBois, Robert Henderson, Oliver Northrup and Hitomi Hirayama.