Research on syntax at UMass is highly collaborative and empirically based.  We believe that discovering the nature of natural language syntax requires not just a deep understanding of current models of sentence structure and syntactic features, but also a broad range of skills in collecting and analyzing linguistic data. The syntax faculty’s research exemplifies these goals in a variety of ways, including seeking extensive cross-linguistic evidence that reveals the typology of syntactic systems, testing theoretical models against data from understudied languages, and developing models of syntactic knowledge in collaboration with specialists in semantics, psycholinguistics, phonology and language development.


Faruk Akkus
Research interests: Interfaces of syntax with morphology and semantics, Varieties of Arabic, Turkish and Kurdish varieties
Rajesh Bhatt
Research interests:
Syntax, Semantics, Tree Adjoining Grammars, South Asian Languages
Lisa Green
Research interests:
Syntax/Semantics with focus on African American English, syntactic variation, L1 Acquisition
Kyle Johnson
Research interests:
Shota Momma
Research interests:
Psycholinguistics, Syntax, Sentence Production
Peggy Speas (Emerita)
Research interests:
Syntax, Morphology, Na-Dene Languages
Ellen Woolford
Research interests:
Restrictive theoretical accounts of universals and typological generalizations about case, agreement, and word order

Graduate students

Duygu Goksu
GoksuResearch interests:
Syntax, semantics, phonology
Year started:
Kaden Holladay
IvanResearch 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:
Polina Kasyanova
AlessaResearch interests:
Syntax, Chukchi
Year started:
Jaieun Kim
KimResearch interests:
Language acquisition, syntax, Korean
Year started:
Mari Kugemoto
AlessaResearch interests:
Psycholinguistics, syntax, Japanese
Year started:
Zahra Mirrazi
🙂Research interests:
Syntax, semantics
Year started:
Yosho Miyata
MiyataYear started:
Anissa Neal
NealResearch interests:
Psycholinguistics, syntax, syntax-semantics interface
Year started:
Eva Neu
EvaResearch interests:
Syntax, Semantics, Philosophy of language
Year started:
Breanna Pratley
PratleyYear started:
Jia Ren
AlessaResearch interests:
Syntax, Mandarin
Year started:
Ayana Whitmal
WhitmalResearch interests:
AAE, tense and aspect, contact relative clauses, Karuk agreement
Year started:

Recent Dissertations

Caroline Anderson. 2021. There and Gone Again: Syntactic Structure In Memory

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

Rong Yin. 2021. The Linearization of V(P)-doubling Constructions.

Christopher Hammerly. 2020. Person-based Prominence in Ojibwe

Rudmila-Rodica Ivan. 2020. TALKING ABOUT HER(SELF): AMBIGUITY AVOIDANCE AND PRINCIPLE B. A Theoretical and Psycholinguistic Investigation of Romanian Pronouns

Sakshi Bhatia. 2019 .Computing Agreement in a Mixed System

Thuy Bui. 2019. Binding and Coreference in Vietnamese

Tracy Conner. 2019. Divorce Licensing: Separate Criteria for Predicate and Clausal Ellipsis

Leland Kusmer. 2019. Optimal Linearization: Prosodic displacement in Khoekhoegowab and Beyond.

David Erschler. 2018. Typology of bizarre ellipsis varieties

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

Mike Clauss. 2017. The Form and Acquisition of Free Relatives.

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

Shayne Slogget. 2017. When Errors aren’t: How Comprehenders Selectively violate Binding Theory.

Nick LaCara. 2016. Anaphora, Inversion, and Focus.

Stefan Keine. 2016. Probes and their Horizons.

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

Jason Overfelt. 2015. Rightward Movement: A Study in Locality,

Noah Constant. 2014. Contrastive Topic: Meanings and Realizations.

Andrew Weir. 2013. Fragments and Clausal Ellipsis.

Annahita Farudi. 2013. Gapping in Farsi: A Crosslinguistic Investigation.

Emily Elfner. 2012. Syntax-Prosody Interactions in Irish.

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

Martin Walkow. 2012. Goals, Big and Small.