Yao-Ying Lai, Sabina Matyiku, and Leandro Bolaños defend their dissertations

March 1, 2017

Congratulations to Yao-Ying LaiSabina Matyiku, and Leandro Bolaños, who successfully defended their PhD dissertations this week!

On February 27, Yao-Ying defended her dissertation, The complement coercion phenomenon: Implications for the model of sentence processing, which draws on the results of several online and offline experiments to argue that the complement coercion phenomenon (e.g., where Jane began the book receives a reading as ‘Jane began [reading/writing] the book’) should be viewed as the processing of aspectual verbs, as suggested by the Structured Individual hypothesis. The findings implicate a constraint-satisfaction approach to the processing of meaning underspecification. In addition to her advisor, associate professor Maria Piñango, her committee included assistant professor Jason Shaw, Ashwini Deo (OSU), and David Braze (Haskins Labs).

Sabina’s dissertation, Semantic effects of head movement: Evidence from Negative Auxiliary Inversion, which she defended on February 28, argues that the movement that derives Negative Auxiliary Inversion constructions, such as Didn’t everybody see the fight, is subject to principles of scope economy and constitutes evidence for head movement in the syntactic component of the grammar. Sabina gathered data for her dissertation through fieldwork with Yale alumnus William Salmon (PhD ’09; now at University of Minnesota Duluth) and other speakers of vernacular Texas English. Her advisors were professor Raffaella Zanuttini and professor Bob Frank, and her committee also included professor emeritus Larry Horn and Tim Stowell (UCLA).

This afternoon, March 1, Leandro defended his dissertation, titled Perception and production of timing in non-native speech: Russian palatalization. In his dissertation, he investigates through a series of experiments how English speakers differing in second-language experience in Russian differ in perception and production of Russian timing properties not present in English, specifically contrasting phones and sequences involving palatalization. He was advised by professor Steve Anderson, and his committee also included assistant professor Ryan Bennett and Jelena Krivokapić (Michigan).

We are very proud of these students for conducting such excellent research and reaching this milestone!

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