Institut Jean Nicod

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Semantics, pragmatics, language acquisition

Linguistics at Maryland

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I'm a PhD candidate in my fifth and final year at the Department of Linguistics at the University of Maryland. My advisors are Valentine Hacquard & Jeffrey Lidz and I also work with Alexander Williams and Meredith Rowe. I'm an active participant in the Maryland language science community as well as PHLING, our Philosophy & Linguistics Group.

My research is in the acquisition of semantics and pragmatics, and I am particularly interested in how first language acquisition illuminates not only the abilities of the child, but also the semantic and pragmatic knowledge that underlie adult linguistic competence. In particular, my research seeks to address how children acquire semantic and pragmatic competence, informed by when they acquire such competence and what such an adult-like competence entails.

My dissertation examines how children discover that certain linguistic expressions trigger presuppositions, using the verb know as a test case. Unlike for closely related verbs such as think, uses of know p typically presuppose that p is true. My dissertation investigates (i) when children first begin to understand this difference between know and think, using behavioral tasks; (ii) what could be potentially informative about the difference, using fine-grained measures of the linguistic input children receive; (iii) what relationships exist between children’s understanding and their input, using behavioral methods and corpus methods in combination. Through this work, I hope to shed light on the kinds of representations of presupposition the language faculty makes available to the learner.