Ivona Kučerová


Associate Professor of Linguistics

Linguistics & Languages

McMaster University

Centre for Advanced Research in Experimental and Applied Linguistics (ARiEAL); Full Member

Associate Professor of Linguistics (as of July 2017; Status Only)

Department of Linguistics

University of Toronto

kucerov at mcmaster dot ca


Research Interests

My research focuses on phenomena that shed light on the division of labor between narrow syntax and its interfaces, especially the syntax-semantics interface. In particular, I am interested in the question of whether semantic information can modulate syntactic derivation, and if so, how exactly the information is passed on to the narrow syntax module. This overarching question comprises several subquestions: (i) is the mapping between syntax and semantics isomorphic, or is it subject to some form of computational economy? (ii) what units of syntactic structure may directly access information from the semantic module? (iii) how do we define these syntactic units? (iv) once we isolate the semantic input, do syntactic operations obey locality and other deterministic restrictions hypothesized to hold of syntactic computations?

Syntax-semantics interface: phi-features at the syntax-semantics interface; presuppositions and their grammatical realization; information structure: givenness, focus, alternatives; word left periphery (second position phenomena, freezing effects); structure of DP (split constructions, NP versus DP, quantification); agreement and its semantic effects

Syntax: well-formedness conditions on syntactic structure; extension requirements of certain functional heads; null subjects, verbal mophology, head movement; Case; Case splits; ergativity

Morphology: inflectional versus derivational morphology; number, gender, person

Languages: Slavic, Germanic, Romance, Semitic, Inuit, Mohawk

Syntax Lab

I lead the syntax lab at McMaster University. The lab investigates syntactic structures, i.e., combinatorial properties, of natural languages from the general-cognition perspective. We use both traditional fieldwork and experimental methods to collect data from cross-linguistically diverse languages, including indigenous languages of Canada, in order to identify and model universal and language-specific structural properties human languages have.

I currently advise and co-advise four graduate students, and 11 undergraduate research assistants. I am on a research leave in 2017-18 but in principle I accept new students both at Master’s and PhD level. Please get in touch if you’d like to work with me. The full info about our graduate program in Cognitive Science of Language can be found here. The Funding section of this page contains info on my currently funded projects.

last updated April 2017