Matt Wagers

language comprehension
experimental syntax

mwagers (at) ucsc (dot) edu
231 Stevenson College
(831) 459-1550
Office hours Tuesdays, 2-4pm.
s/lab (student-run meeting)
supplemental materials
Spring 2016
LING80D Language & Mind
LING258 Adv. Psycholing
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).


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 cert., 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.
Building digital resources for research on under-resourced languages
Corpus-based and behavioral approaches.
Tutorial jointly presented with Kie Zuraw at AIMM3 (October, 2015)

Recent research ☄

Subject encodings and retrieval interference.
With Nathan Arnett*. Journal of Memory and Language, in press.
Summer talks, 2016 (& CUNY2016 posters)
Jed Sam Pizarro-Guevara on The role of voice morphology in processing Tagalog A-bar dependencies, AFLA 23, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, 10-12 June, 2016. Related: CUNY2016 poster
Chelsea Ann Miller on Partial, Syntactic Reactivation at Ellipsis Sites in Noun Phrase Ellipsis, Ellipsis Across Borders Conference 2016, Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina, 20-21 June, 2016.
Related: CUNY2016 poster
With Sandra Chung. Young speakers in the bottleneck: knowledge and use of morphology in Chamorro, Workshop on Sentence Processing in Multilingual and Other Less Commonly Studied Populations, Potsdam Research Institute for Multilingualism, Potsdam, Germany, 4-5 August, 2016.
Structuring Expectation
Slides from invited talk at WCCFL33, Mar 27-29, 2015, Simon Fraser U., Vancouver
Licensing Animacy in Relative Clause Comprehension, with Emily Pendleton
English Resumptive Pronouns are More Common where Gaps are Less Acceptable.
Adam Morgan (UCSD). Manuscript.
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 2013. 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.
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)