Introducing Hadas Kotek

August 25, 2016

Our department is pleased to welcome Hadas Kotek, a lecturer in semantics for 2016-2017. Hadas’s background and research (see her introduction below) and her office location (Dow Hall 302) will make her an integral part of the linguistics community at Yale. Please be sure to make her feel welcome in the department!

I received my PhD in 2014 from MIT, advised by David Pesetsky, Danny Fox, Irene Heim, and Martin Hackl. My dissertation proposes a new framework for the interpretation of wh-questions, bringing together insights from both the syntax and the semantics literatures, and drawing on new data from online processing of questions in English. In the past two years I was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at McGill University, where I worked with Junko Shimoyama on a project on the structure and meaning of questions. I also got involved in two projects documenting the understudied languages Chuj and Dharamsala Tibetan, and in a collaboration studying implicit gender bias through online sentence processing and eye-tracking.

My main research specialty lies in generative syntax and its interaction with formal semantics. The goal of my research is to develop an understanding of the inventory of the tools available to the language faculty for the construction of natural language utterances and for their interpretation: What strategies are employed during structure building in the syntax? What additional machinery must the semantics provide in order to interpret these structures? How does this inventory vary cross-linguistically, and how does it manifest itself in online processing? My research employs a variety of experimental techniques, including sentence processing and large-scale grammaticality surveys. These techniques are supplemented by elicitation work, concentrating most recently on the understudied languages Chuj (Mayan, Guatemala) and Dharamsala Tibetan (India), as well as English, Hebrew, and German. Some of my recent research topics include wh-questions, focus, relative clauses, and comparative and superlative quantifiers. 

At Yale I will be a Lecturer in Semantics. This fall semester I will be teaching Semantics I and a seminar on questions and focus. We will ask ourselves whether those two phenomena use the same syntactic and semantic mechanisms for their construction and interpretation, and we will spend some time exploring how they vary cross-linguistically. In the spring I will be teaching Semantics II and a freshman seminar. I look forward to getting to know everyone better and to seeing you in my classes! 
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