The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Meet our new visiting faculty

We have four visiting faculty members in linguistics this Fall

Benjamin R. George has just completed his Ph.D. in semantics at UCLA. He writes that his interests include “question semantics, presupposition, logic, the semantics-pragmatics interface, and mathematical methods in semantic theory”.

Rick Nouwen will be visiting us only for the Fall semester. As his website tells us: “I’m a linguist interested in semantics and pragmatics. My research focuses in particular on (i) scalar phenomena in natural language; (ii) multi-dimensionality and projection phenomena in semantics; (iii) pronominal reference; (iv) the overlap between analytical philosophy, logic and linguistics.”

Maziar Toosarvandani joins us as an American Council of Learned Societies New Faculty Fellow. He writes: “I received my PhD from Berkeley in 2010 where I wrote my dissertation on association with focus. More generally, I am interested in formal patterns that arise from the interaction of sentences in discourse and what these patterns tell us about speakers’ competence about syntax as well as their competence about discourse structure. Currently, I am working on a project to understand why the so-called corrective use of the coordinator “but” (as in “Max didn’t find an apartment in Cambridge but in Somerville”) requires the presence of a negative element in its first conjunct. I also do documentary fieldwork on Northern Paiute (a severely endangered Uto-Aztecan language of the western US), which feeds into my theoretical interests. I have recently been exploring how in Northern Paiute, a language that practically lacks syntactic subordinators, speakers combine lexical, syntactic, and world knowledge with knowledge about discourse structure to convey temporal, causal, and other typically “subordinating” relations.”

Omer Preminger received his PhD here at MIT just this summer, and will be splitting his time between our department and Masha Polinsky’s lab at Harvard. He describes his interests as including “syntax, morphology, and everything in between, including but not limited to: agreement, case, ergativity, argument-structure, and wh-movement”. He will be teaching 24.960 (Syntactic Models, graduate) in the fall, and 24.900 (Intro to Linguistics, undergrad) in the spring.