I am a linguist at the University of California, Santa Cruz. My research interest is in language processing, especially the coordination of syntactic information in memory. I teach courses at UCSC on psycholinguistics, experimental methods & design, language and memory, and syntax.
I completed my Ph.D. in Linguistics at UMD (2008), supervised by Colin Phillips (dissertation). Before that, I did my A.B. in Molecular Biology at Princeton University (2003), with Certificates in Neuroscience and in Linguistics.
- Winter 2023 LING172 Psycholinguistics II
Office hours: Mondays, 2-3pm, and by appointment; in-person, Zoom available on request
- Presentations of our research at the 36th Annual Conference on Human Sentence Processing: HSP2023, March 9-11, 2023, University of Pittsburgh
- Predictive parsing as a source for resumptive pronoun preference in Hebrew with first author Mandy Cartner (TAU), Ivy Sichel, & Maziar Toosarvandani.
- The role of prediction in retrieval interference: The case of reflexive attraction, with first author Maayan Keshev (UMass) & Brian Dillon
- Turkish relative clauses and the role of syntactic connectivity in agreement attraction, with first author Elifnur Ulusoy (UCSC)
- Congratulations to Vishal Arvindam
- One of two inaugural recipients of the Gibson/Federenko Young Scholar Awards, for "outstanding scientific work as a talk at the Conference on Human Sentence Processing"! His presentation, from HSP2022, was entitled Anti-local anaphors in Telugu are subject to local antecedent interference.
- View a video recording of the talk.
- Alignment, Reanalysis and Re-encoding, talk delivered at X-PPL 2022, University of Zurich, 12-13 September, 2022; & Cornell Linguistics, 3 November, 2022
- ⁂ Congrats to 2022 graduates Dr. Nick Van Handel and Ashley Ippolito (B.A.) ⁂
- ❖ We (virtually) hosted the 35th Annual Conference on Human Sentence Processing: March 24-26, 2022! ❖
- Anti-local anaphors in Telugu are subject to local antecedent interference, by Vishal Arvindam & Matt Wagers (plenary) Session recording
- Preposition doubling errors elicited by dependency length but not verb complexity, by Richard Bibbs & Matt Wagers
- Processing focus intervention structures in Mandarin, by Yaqing Cao and Jess Law
- Use/Mention ambiguities in comprehension: Evidence from agreement attraction, by John Duff & Matt Wagers
- Understanding words of negotiation in context, by Allison Nguyen & Jean E. Fox Tree
- "It's alive!": Animacy-based structural expectations rapidly update with context, by Stephanie Rich, Lalitha Balachandran, John Duff, Matthew Kogan, Maya Wax Cavallaro, Nicholas Van Handel & Matt Wagers
⌜ 2022 ⌟
Processing reflexive pronouns when they don’t announce themselves with Sandra Chung and Manuel F. Borja. Glossa Psycholinguistics 1(1). doi:10.5070/G601174.
Data archive: doi:10.17605/OSF.IO/BWCZT.
- Extraction from English RCs and Cross-Linguistic Similarities in the Environments That Facilitate Extraction with first author Jake Vincent & Ivy Sichel. Languages, 7(2), 117. Open Access, doi:10.3390/languages7020117.
- Memory for linguistic features and the focus of attention: evidence from the dynamics of agreement inside DP with Brian McElree. Language, Cognition & Neuroscience. DOI 10.1080/23273798.2022.2057559.
- Evidence for a universal parsing principle in Santiago Laxopa Zapotec with Kelsey Sasaki, Steven Foley, Jed Pizarro-Guevara, Fe Silva-Robles, & Maziar Toosarvandani. Unpublished manuscript. Data archive: doi:10.17605/OSF.IO/2WGD8.
⌜ 2021 ⌟
- On the universality of intrusive resumption: Evidence from Chamorro and Palauan with Sandra Chung. Postprint. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, 39(3), 759-801. Data archive: DOI 10.17605/OSF.IO/H5YAV.
⌜ 2020 ⌟
- Hierarchical structure and memory mechanisms in agreement attraction with Julie Franck (U Genève). PLoS ONE, 15(5). 10.1371/journal.pone.0232163. Data archive: DOI 10.17605/OSF.IO/J85SP.
- The predictive value of Tagalog voice morphology in filler-gap dependency formation with first author Jed Sam Pizarro-Guevara (UCSC). Front Psychol, 11, 517. 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00517
⌜ 2019 ⌟
- Acceptability with the tools of signal detection theory with Brian Dillon. To appear in G. Goodall, Ed., Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Syntax. Preprint.
- Language processing experiments in the field with Sandra Chung. To appear in J. Sprouse, Ed., Oxford Handbook of Experimental Syntax. eScholarship (UC Repository)
- A new argument for co-active parses ... with Brian Dillon, Caroline Andrews, & Caren Rotello. J Exp Psychol: Learn Mem Cogn, 45, 1271-86. doi:10.1037/xlm0000649 Preprint.
⌜ 2018 ⌟
- Grammatical licensing and relative clause parsing ... with Sandra Chung and Manuel F. Borja. Cognition, 178, 207-221. May 2018 postprint
- English resumptive pronouns ... with first author Adam Morgan (UCSD). Linguistic Inquiry, 49 861-876. PDF; Postprint: https://osf.io/nj2mq/.
- Developing incrementality ... with first author Emily Atkinson (UMich). Cognition, 179, 132-149.
... Past events ↯↯↯
- current members
- Vishal Arvindam
- Lalitha Balachandran
- Netta Ben Meir
- Richard Bibbs
- Jack Duff
- Matthew Kogan
- Stephanie Rich
- Elifnur Ulusoy
- Claire Miller Willahan
- grad alums
- Nate Arnett
- Scarlett Clothier-Goldschmidt
- Steven Foley
- Margaret Kroll
- Anelia Kudin
- Chelsea Miller
- Karl DeVries
- Adam Morgan
- Jed Pizarro-Guevara
- Kelsey Sasaki
- Matt Tucker
- Nick Van Handel
- Jake Vincent
- undergrad/R.A. alums
- Ashley Ippolito
- Emily Pendleton
- Caroline Andrews
- Joseph King
- Melanie Esver
- Sylvia Soule
- Shayne Sloggett
- Sarah Napoli
- Jake Vincent. Extraction from Relative Clauses: An Experimental Investigation into Variable Island Effects in English—or—This is a Dissertation That We Really Needed to Find Someone Who'd Write. Ph.D. Dissertation, June, 2021.
- Anelia Kudin. Implicit Agents in Ukrainian: Evidence from Retrieval Interference in Sentence Processing. M.A. Thesis, June, 2021.
- Steven Foley. Case, agreement, and sentence processing in Georgian. Ph.D. Dissertation, June, 2020.
- Margaret Kroll. Comprehending ellipsis. Ph.D. Dissertation, June, 2020.
- Jed Pizarro-Guevara. When human universal meets language specific. Ph.D. Dissertation, June, 2020.
- Nathan V. Arnett. Subject encodings & retrieval interference. Ph.D. Dissertation, December, 2016.
- Chelsea Ann Miller. Limited, syntactic reactivation in noun phrase ellipsis. M.A. Thesis, June, 2016.
- Scarlett Clothier-Goldschmidt. The distribution and processing of referential expressions: evidence from English and Chamorro. M.A. Thesis, June, 2015.
- Adam Milton Morgan. Bridging the gap between acceptability and production of English resumptive pronouns. M.A. Thesis, June, 2013.
A major question our lab focuses on is how complex compositional objects, like sentences, are bound in working memory. We try to make progress on this question by studying how linguistic features, and feature systems, can act as "traffic signals" to access recent memories via prediction and retrieval. Some representative publications:
- Arnett, N., & Wagers, M. (). Subject encodings and retrieval interference. Journal of Memory and Language, 93, 22-54. 10.1016/j.jml.2016.07.005 Post-print (OSF)
- Dillon, B., Andrews, C., Rotello, C. M., & Wagers, M. (). A new argument for co-active parses during language comprehension. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 45, 1271-1286. Preprint here: https://osf.io/qdmfh/. Repository for materials, data and analysis code.
My collaborators and I have focused on developing sentence processing research in smaller or lesser-studied languages. For the past several years, I've been investigating language processing in Chamorro, an Austronesian language of the Mariana Islands, together with Sandra Chung (UCSC) and Manuel F. Borja (Inetnun Åmut yan Kutturan Natibu, CNMI). Our research was supported by the NSF (2013-2016).
- Wagers, M., Borja, M.F., & Chung, S. () Grammatical licensing and relative clause parsing in a flexible word-order language. Cognition, 178, 207-221. Postprint. Experimental items, data, & supplementary materials.
- Wagers, M., Borja, M.F., & Chung, S. () The real-time comprehension of wh-dependencies in a Wh-Agreement language. Language, 91, 109-144. Postprint and 10.1353/lan.2015.0001 (publisher)
- Competition among pronouns in Chamorro grammar and sentence processing. handout used at Pronouns in Competition workshop (UC Santa Cruz).
- Wagers, M., Chung, S. In press. Language processing experiments in the field. In J. Sprouse (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Experimental Syntax. Postprint.
- Chung, S., Wagers, M. On the universality of intrusive resumption: Evidence from Chamorro and Palauan. Unpublished manuscript.
Other lab members have been approaching problems in language processing from the perspective of underinvestigated languages. Jed Pizarro-Guevara has been working on Tagalog language processing, focused on the predictive value of Voice in interpreting A-bar dependencies in Tagalog.
- Pizarro-Guevara, J.S., Wagers, M. (2020). The predictive value of Tagalog voice morphology in filler-gap dependency formation. Front Psychol, 11, 517. 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00517. Open Access.
Since 2018 Maziar Toosarvandani and I have convened z/lab, on sentence processing Zapotec. This research, expanded to include comparative studies with Hebrew ,is now supported by the NSF (2020-2024; BCS), with Co-PI Ivy Sichel.
- Pronouns over gaps in parsing? Relative clause parsing in Santiago Laxopa Zapotec. 93rd Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America, New York, NY (Jan 6-9, 2019). With Steven Foley, Jed Pizarro-Guevara, Kelsey Sasaki, Fe Silva Robles, & Maziar Toosarvandani. Slides.
- Animate intruders. 33rd Annual Meeting of the CUNY Human Sentence Processing Conference, Amherst, MA (Mar 19-21, 2020). Slides
- Dillon, B., & Wagers, M. In press. Acceptability with the tools of signal detection theory. In G. Goodall (Ed.) Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Syntax. Preprint.
- Using signal-detection theoretic tools, like ROC curve analysis, to draw conclusions about gradience in acceptability judgments. Preprint provides code and tutorials.
- Morgan, A., & Wagers, M. (2018). English Resumptive Pronouns are More Common where Gaps are Less Acceptable. Linguistic Inquiry, 49, 861-876. Postprint: https://osf.io/nj2mq/.
- Comparing acceptability and production measures of English resumptive pronouns.
- Kroll, M., & Wagers, M. Is working memory sensitive to discourse status? Experimental evidence from responsive appositives. Poster presented at XPrag 2017, Cologne, Germany, Jun 21-23, 2017. Poster: https://osf.io/95hjq/.
- Manipulating acceptability with Questions-under-Discussion (QUDs).
- Anand, P., Andrews, C., Farkas, D., & Wagers, M. (2011). The exclusive interpretation of plural nominals in quantificational environments. In N. Ashton, A. Chereches, & D. Lutz (Eds.) Proceedings of. the 21st Semantics and Linguistic Theory Conference. 176-196. Open Access.
- Correlating measures of plural ex-/inclusitivity.
Santa Cruz Linguistics at CUNY2021
- Task influences on lexical underspecification: Insights from the Maze and SPR, by Jack Duff, Adrian Brasoveanu, & Amanda Rysling
- Guiding Implicit Prosody with Delexicalized Melodies: Evidence from a Match/Mismatch Task, by Nick Van Handel, Matt Wagers, & Amanda Rysling
- Singular vs. Plural Themselves: Evidence from the Ambiguity Advantage, by Nick Van Handel, Lalitha Balachandran, Stephanie Rich, & Amanda Rysling
- Decomposing the focus effect: Evidence from reading, by Morwenna Hoeks, Maziar Toosarvandani, & Amanda Rysling.
- Syntactic and semantic parallelism guides filler-gap processing in coordination, by Stephanie Rich & Matt Wagers (plenary session)
- Processing direct discourse: Duff, Anand, Brasoveanu, and Rysling
- Prominence scales in Georgian sentence processing: Foley
- Word order in Tagalog RC processing : Pizarro-Guevara
- Encoding interference : Rich
- Ambiguity, underspecification and the Maze task : Van Handel, Sasaki, Duff, Anand, Rysling and Sloggett (B.A., 2010)
- Discourse representation structures in memory; Linguistic skill acquisition; & Voice mismatch in VP Ellipsis : Brasoveanu, et al.
- Hand-generated v. auto-maze foils in the Maze task : Sloggett, Van Handel & Rysling;
- Resumption and animacy : Wagers, incorporating on-going joint work with z/lab (Foley, Pizarro-Guevara, Sasaki, & Toosarvandani).
- 🏕 CAMP3: California Meeting on Psycholinguistics, October 26-27, 2019, at UC Santa Cruz
- Language Diversity, Contact, and Change Workshop (14-16 June; University of Chicago Beijing Center), Tutorial Workshop on Signal Detection Theory for Syntactic Research
- MAPLL-TCP-TL 2019 (27-28 July; Konan University)
- CUNY2019 presentations from s/lab members: Ben-Meir & Van Handel on Clauses v. verbs in retrieval, Foley on Computing object agreement, Kroll on Evaluating truth, Rich on Structural prediction, Roberts & Bellik on Remembering prosody in discourse, Rysling on Predictive attention allocation, Rysling & Van Handel on Listeners' predictions of sentence lengths, Sasaki on Temporal comprehension in discourse, and Wagers on the Grammaticality Asymmetry.
- The z/lab group presented their initial findings on Zapotec sentence comprehension at the LSA Annual Meeting (January 2019)
- Pronouns in Competition workshop (UCSC; April 2018). ... Competition among pronouns in Chamorro grammar and sentence processing. , handout (variants presented at AFLA25, Academia Sinica, May 2018). UCL Lectures (UCL Linguistics, May 2017).
- Intro. to Linguistics (LING50): Su20 syll (remote), Su21 syll (remote), Sp22 syll
- Language & Cognition (LING155)
- Language & Mind (LING80D)
- Psycholinguistics (LING157/171): W20, W21, F21
- Advanced Psycholinguistics (LING158/172): W22
- Syntactic Structures (LING111): W20
- Typology (LING124): <W20 syll, W20 schd>
- Psycholinguistics (LING257): W20, W21, S22
- Adv. Psycholinguistics (LING258)
- Proseminar: Experimental Linguistics (LING280): S21
- Research Seminar in Psycholinguistics (LING279)
- Fall 2022 LING279 Research Seminar in Psycholinguistics (graduate): Language Processing in Verb-initial Settings