Ivona Kučerová


Associate Professor of Linguistics

Linguistics & Languages

McMaster University

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

Institute on globalization and the human condition

Associate Professor of Linguistics (Status Only)

Department of Linguistics

University of Toronto

kucerov at mcmaster dot ca


Research Interests

Generative grammar of the Chomskyan tradition assumes a modular grammar architecture that makes a strict distinction between (narrow) syntax and the articulatory and the interpretive modules. My research focuses on questions involving the precise nature of syntactic computations, and how they can be modeled to interact with the interfaces, especially the syntax-semantics interface. I assume a rigorous interpretation of the idea that syntax is autonomous and strive to show that cases where it appears that semantic information needs to be present in the syntax can be accounted for within a strict Y model. My work not only discusses new and diverse empirical findings, but crucially aims to show that derivations can be designed in a way that will not violate the Y model. This overarching goal of my research can be understood as an effort to answer the following set of questions: (i) is the mapping between syntax and semantics subject to some form of computational economy? (ii) what units of syntactic structure are directly accessible by the semantic module? (iii) how do we define these syntactic units? (iv) once we isolate the syntactic input from a possible contribution of the semantic component, do syntactic operations obey locality and other deterministic restrictions hypothesized to hold in syntactic computations?

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

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

Fieldwork and language revitalization: Inuttut, Mohawk (a new grant on language revitalization)

Phonology-morphology: inflectional versus derivational morphology; number Computational linguistics: statistical machine translation; parsing of free word order languages

Language families: Slavic, Germanic, Semitic, Romance, Inuit, Northern Iroquoian

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. Please get in touch if you’d like to work with me (include your research interests and CV). 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 December 2018