Syntax at Northwestern

Research People Resources Courses Links

We are interested in a range of topics relating to the syntax of human languages, including the cognitive processes underlying sentence parsing and production, how syntactic structures change over time, how they are interpreted, as well as formal syntactic theory. We use a variety of methodologies including:

  • Corpus analysis
  • Language acquisition studies
  • Psycholinguistic studies
  • Computational modeling

Masaya Yoshida is interested the human sentence processor's ability to use already-seen materials to project not-yet-encountered sentence structures. His research on sentence processing attempts to reveal: (i) what are the mental representations that the parser employs (theoretical syntax), (ii) whether the detailed syntactic structures are fully represented by the parser (experimental sentence processing), and (iii) how such representations are built by the parser (computational studies).

Masaya Yoshida's research in the area of theoretical syntax has been devoted to the formal properties of ellipsis phenomena. Specifically, his research focuses on the identity condition on ellipsis through investigating Sluicing and Gapping constructions.

Alexis Wellwood studies the relationship between linguistic form and meaning, and between linguistic meaning and the rest of the mind. Her research in semantics focuses on the language we use to express notions of measurement and quantification, in particular the logical contribution of degree words like "more", determiners like "most", and modals like "might". At the interface, she considers how these expressions might be mapped to nonlinguistic systems for representing different types of magnitudes.

In language acquisition, Alexis Wellwood aims to understand the relationship between language learning and regularities in the mapping from syntax to semantics. Often, this research investigates what hypotheses preschoolers have about novel words in different syntactic contexts.