I am a Professor of Linguistics at UCLA. I am also the Director of Graduate Studies and Vice Chair. I received my BA in Linguistics from the University of Michigan and my PhD in Linguistics from Rutgers University.

My research interests are semantics, pragmatics and the philosophy of language. This means that I use logic to model what it is people know when they know the meaning of language. Most of my work is aimed at pushing the traditional boundaries of what should be considered part of the compositional semantics to include context-sensitivity, illocutionary content, and entities other than individuals.

I have recently started trying to bring the tools of formal semantics and pragmatics to the public in what I call "Applied Semantics". This has manifested in a series of media and consulting projects (detailed here), as well as a large-scale project investigating the consequences of semantic variation in common nouns employed in medical diagnoses, with an initial focus on the word "cancer" (detailed here)

You can download my CV here.

Contact me:
3103L Campbell Hall
UCLA Linguistics
Los Angeles, CA 90095

310-206-5743 (fax)


My Curriculum Vitae
My Google Scholar page

2022 (with W. Starr): Decomposing 'as if' , Proceedings of SALT 32.
(How can we account for the distribution, productivity, and meaning of 'as if' constructions compositionally?)

2022: the Brussels Lectures: The Semantics of Similarity

2022: A typology of semantic entities
in D. Altshuler (ed.)Linguistics meets philosophy, Oxford University Press.
(What should be a basic entity in our formal semantic ontology, and why?)

2021 (with B. Sturman): Prosodically marked mirativity.
Proceedings of WCCFL 37, 1-20.
(How does exclamation intonation work, and how can we model it semantically?)

2021 (with D. Bumford): Rationalizing manner-driven evaluativity inferences
Sinn und Bedeutung 25, 187-204.
(Why can't we adopt current game-theoretic approaches to adjectival constructions to account for evaluativity?)

2021: A comparison of expressives and miratives
in A. Trotzke and X. Villalba (eds.) Expressive Meaning Across Linguistic Levels and Frameworks, Oxford, 191-215.
(Given that expressives and miratives have a lot in common semantically, should we really analyze expressives as encoding conventional implicature?)

2021: The semantics of emotive markers and other illocutionary content
Journal of Semantics 38(2): 305-340.
(How should we analyze alas and other markers of the speaker's emotive attitude, given that they differ in prinicipled ways from other encoders of not-at-issue content?)

2020: Eliminating 'EARLIEST': a general semantics for before and after
Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 24: 201-218.
(How can we define before and after to account for their asymmetries and sensitivity to aspect?)

2020: Separate but equal: a typology of equative constructions
in P. Hallman (ed.) Degree and Quantification, Brill. 163-204.
(How do explicit and implicit equatives differ, morphosyntactically and semantically?)

2020: Manner implicatures and how to spot them
International Review of Pragmatics 12: 44-79
(How can we identify, diagnose, and analyze Manner implicatures?)

2019: Immediate commitment, but cost-free processing, for individual/degree polysemy, with M. Grant and S. Michniewicz.
Grammatical Approaches to Language Processing, eds. K. Carlson, C. Clifton Jr., and Lyn Frazier, Springer (pp 93-125)
(How are degree-polysemous expressions processed?)

2018: The semantics of many, much, few, and little
Language and Linguistics Compass 12(1). doi: 10.1111/lnc3.12269
(If quantity words like many aren't individual quantifiers, how should we analyze them semantically?)

2018: Evaluativity across adjective and construction types: an experimental study
with A. Brasoveanu; Journal of Linguistics 54(2): 263-329. doi: 10.1017/S0022226717000123
(How can we experimentally test for evaluativity?)

2016: On a shared property of deontic and epistemic modals
Deontic Modality, eds. N. Charlow and M. Chrisman, Oxford University Press
(What do deontic and epistemic modals have in common, such that they're cross-linguistically polysemous?)

2015: Antonymy in space and other strictly-ordered domains
Perspectives on Spatial Cognition, vol. 10, eds. M. Glanzberg, J. Skilters, and P. Svenonius, pp 1-33
(Given the parallel behavior of relations across strictly ordered domains, what can we conclude about cross-domain parallels?)

2015: Children's comprehension of syntactically encoded evidentiality
with L. Winans, N. Hyams and L. Kalin; Proceedings of NELS 45 vol. 3 189--202
(How well do children comprehend syntactically encoded evidentiality?)

2015: The Semantics of Evaluativity
Oxford University Press [handout]
(A review of the distribution and formal treatments of evaluativity; a proposal that it is best analyzed as a conversational implicature.)

2015: Modified numerals and measure phrase equatives
Journal of Semantics 32, 425--475
(How can we account for the fact that MP equatives like This drone can fly as high as 4,000 feet obligatorily receive an 'at most' interpretation?)

2014: The polysemy of measurement [updated 2018 handout]
Lingua 143, 242--266
(DPs can denote either individuals or degrees (e.g. Many pizzas are delicious/is too many): how can we model this semantically?)

2014: The acquisition of syntactically encoded evidentiality
with N. Hyams; Language Acquisition 21:2, 173--198
(How do studies of the acqusition of syntactically encoded evidentiality fit into current narratives about the Theory of Mind and acquisition about evidentials generally?)

2013: A semantic account of mirative evidentials
with S. Murray; Proceedings of SALT 23: 453--472
(How can we best formalize the semantic relationship between indirect evidentiality and mirativity?)

2013: The effects of syntax on the acquisition of evidentiality
with N. Hyams and L. Winans; Proceedings of BUCLD 37: 345--357
(Does children's production reflect an understanding of syntactically encoded evidentiality?)

2013: Similatives and the degree arguments of verbs
Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 31(4): 1101--1137
(What explains the morphological kinship between equatives and similatives like Mary danced as John did, and what does this say about the lexical semantic differences between adjectives and verbs?)

2012: On modal subjectivity
UCLA WPL 16: 131--150
(How should we think about the subjective/objective distinction that has historically been made for interpretations of epistemic modals?)

2012: Mirativity across constructions and languages
Presentation at CUSP 5, UCSD
(A survey of what types of things encode mirativity, and how.)

2012: Group terms and the meaning of meet
(An argument that the original motivation for group terms in Barker 1992 was based on the mistaken identification of the verb meet as extensional.)

2011: Exclamatives, degrees and speech acts
Linguistics & Philosophy 34(5): 411--442
(What's the best semantic analysis for exclamatives, given that they appear to be restricted to only clauses that denote degree properties?)

2010: Equatives, measure phrases and NPIs
Proceedings of the 17th Amsterdam Colloquium: 364--373
(How can we define the equative to account for `at most' interpretations and the licensing of NPIs?)

2009: A degree account of exclamatives
Proceedings of SALT 18: 601--618
(How can we balance the degree-semantic properties of exclamatives with their illocutionary properties?)

2008: Degree Modification in Natural Language
Rutgers University PhD Dissertation
(An overview and analysis of several ways in which degree modifiers operate in natural language, including quantity words like many; operators involved with the phenomenon of evaluativity; and exclamative operators.)

2007: Evaluativity and antonymy
Proceedings of SALT 17: 210--227
(What is the distribution of evaluativity across adjectival constructions, and how should we modify the POS account accordingly?)

2006: How many maximizes in the Balkan Sprachbund
Proceedings of SALT 16: 190--207
(How should we analyze quantity words like many in light of their behavior in languages like Romanian?)

2006: Pronominal vs. determiner wh-words: evidence from the copy construction
Proceedings of CSSP 6: 355--374
(What's the best account for the fact that what can occur in wh-copy constructions, but what book cannot?)

2006: Context, compositionality and calamity
Mind & Language 21: 541--552
(How can we conceptualize syntactically-encoded contextual domain-restricting variables given that these variables receive their value in part from other syntactically-encoded information?)

2005: "Different agreement morphemes for different agreement configurations: evidence from complementizer agreement in Germanic"
Ms., Rutgers University
(A feature-checking account of complementizer agreement in Germanic.)

2005: "Do Numeral Classifiers Influence Similarity Judgments?"
with M. Shatz; Ms., University of Michigan
(A study to determine the effect of numeral classifier categorization on the perception of similarity.)


Linguistics 1 (Introduction to Language)

Linguistics 7 (Language and Identity)

Linguistics 8 (Language in Context)

Linguistics 120C (Undergraduate Semantics 1)

Linguistics 165C (Undergraduate Semantics 2)

Linguistics 200C (Graduate Semantics 1)

Linguistics 201C (Graduate Semantics 2)

Linguistics 207 (Graduate Pragmatics)

Linguistics 218 (Mathematical Linguistics 2): Montague Grammar and Dynamic Semantics

Linguistics 222 (Graduate Semantics 3)

Linguistics 252 (Graduate Seminar, Winter 2009): The semantics of wh-phrases

Linguistics 252 (Graduate Seminar, Spring 2010): The semantics of sums & scales

Linguistics 252 (Graduate Seminar, Spring 2011): The semantics and pragmatics of evidentials

Linguistics 254 (Graduate Seminar, Spring 2012, with Nina Hyams): The acquisition of semantics

Linguistics 252 (Graduate seminar, Fall 2013, with Gabe Greenberg): The semantics of irreality

Linguistics 252 (Graduate Seminar, Fall 2014): The semantics of speech acts

Linguistics 252 (Graduate Seminar, Spring 2016): The semantics of degree constructions

Linguistics 252 (Graduate Seminar, Fall 2019): The semantics of temporal relations

media & consulting

I am a linguist who specializes in how meaning is encoded in natural language. My subfields of specialization are semantics and pragmatics, which means I'm interested in aspects of meaning that are literally encoded in language (semantics), but also non-literal meaning that arises when language is used in particular ways in particular contexts (pragmatics).

This distinction is especially interesting in identifying implicatures, types of speech acts, semantic variation across populations, and ambiguity. If a president says to a subordinate "I hope you can let this go," is it a threat? If protestors demand that a city "defund the police," are they asking for a reduction in or elimination of funding? If someone begins a racist tirade with the statement "I'm not a racist but...", can they still be rightfully accused of being a racist?

I have experience as a media consultant, helping journalists and the general public understand issues in semantics and pragmatics, or what languages mean and why.

I also have experience as a consultant and expert witness. While some of this work has involved explanations of the meaning of particular words or phrases, my most valuable work has pertained to the important distinction between explicit and implicit meaning in cases involving accusations of defamation and hate speech.



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