UMass Amherst is well known for integrating formal semantic theory into generative linguistic research. Natural language semantics seeks to understand the nature of how linguistic meaning is cognitively represented, and how those representations are productively computed. It is therefore studied here as a sub-branch of the larger discipline of cognitive science, a perspective that fosters leading research into the interactions and interfaces with syntax, morphology, and phonology (especially prosody). At this exciting moment in the discipline, our program emphasizes the essential cross-disciplinarity of semantic research, drawing upon work in such diverse areas as philosophy, logic, psychology, language documentation, and other areas of linguistic theory. As a branch of cognitive science, semantic theory is studied here through a variety of empirical methods, including traditional judgment tasks, laboratory experiments, psycholinguistic studies, computational modeling, and fieldwork. Our faculty have broad expertise in a variety of languages and language families, including Romance, South Asian languages, and North American indigenous languages. In addition, our program has a well established tradition of faculty and students carrying out in-depth, theoretically-informed semantic fieldwork on a wide variety of understudied and endangered languages, especially languages indigenous to the Americas, Asia, and Africa, as well as signed languages.


Ana Arregui
🙂Research interests:
Maria Biezma
BiezmaResearch interests:
Pragmatics, semantics, psycholinguistics
Seth Cable
Research interests:
Fieldwork, Semantics, Syntax, Na-Dene Languages
Vincent Homer
Research interests:
Syntax, Syntax-Semantics Interface
Angelika Kratzer(Emerita)
Research interests:
Semantics, Syntax/Semantics Interface
Barbara Partee (Emerita)
Research interests:
Semantics, History of Formal Semantics

Graduate students

Mariam Asatryan
AsatryanResearch interests:
Year started:
Duygu Goksu
GoksuResearch interests:
Syntax, semantics, phonology
Year started:
Angelica Hill
OzgeResearch interests:
formal semantics; a cross-linguistic approach to tense and aspect
Year started:
Kaden Holladay
HolladayResearch interests:
Morpho-phonology, syntax-semantics interface, Yup’ik, Finnish
Year started:
Shay Hucklebridge
HucklebridgeResearch interests:
Semantics, Linguistic Fieldwork, and Language Revitalization/Documentation
Year started:
Kimberly Johnson
JohnsonResearch interests:
Syntax, semantics, fieldwork
Year started:
Ericka Mayer
MayerResearch interests:
Semantics, psycholinguistics, in particular the processing of presuppositions, negation, NPIs, and monotonicity
Year started:
Zahra Mirrazi
🙂Research interests:
Syntax, semantics
Year started:
Anissa Neal
NealResearch interests:
Psycholinguistics, syntax, syntax-semantics interface
Year started:
Eva Neu
EvaResearch interests:
Syntax, Semantics, Philosophy of language
Year started:
Jonathan Pesetsky
PesetsyResearch interests:
Year started:
Yixiao Song
SongResearch interests:
Computational Linguistics and Semantics
Year started:

Recent dissertations

Caroline Anderson. 2021. Shifting the Perspectival Landscape: Methods for Encoding, Identifying, and Selecting Perspectives.

Deniz Ozyildiz. 2021. The Event Structure of Attitudes.

Michael Wilson. 2021. The Syntactic and Semantic Atoms of the Spray/load Alternation.

Alexander Goebel. 2020. Representing Context: Presupposition Triggers and Focus-sensitivity

Petr Kusliy. 2020. The Emptiness of the Present: Fronting Constructions as a Window to the Semantics of Tense

Katia Vostrikova. 2019. Phrasal and clausal exceptive-additive constructions crosslinguisically

Hsin-Lun Huang. 2018. The Head-Quarters of Mandarin Arguments.

Jon Ander Mendia. 2017. Amount Relatives Redux.

Yangsook Park. 2017. Attitudes De se and Logophoricity.

Ethan Poole. 2017. Movement and the Semantic Type of Traces.

Elizabeth Bogal-Allbritten. 2016. Building Meaning in Navajo.

Masashi Hashimoto. 2015. Experiencing in Japanese: The Experiencer Restriction across Clausal Types

Noah Constant. 2014. Contrastive Topic: Meanings and Realizations

Suzi Lima. 2014. The Grammar of Individuation and Counting.

Jesse Aron Harris. 2012. Processing Perspectives.

Andrew Robert McKenzie. 2012. The Role of Contextual Restriction in Reference-Tracking.

Aynat Rubinstein. 2012. Roots of Modality.

Jan Anderssen. 2011. Quantification, misc.

Maria Biezma. 2011. Anchoring Pragmatics In Syntax And Semantics.

Christopher M. Davis. 2011. Constraining Interpretation: Sentence Final Particles in Japanese.

Amy Rose Deal. 2010. Topics In The Nez Perce Verb.

Ilaria Frana. 2010. Concealed Questions. In Search Of Answers.