Welcome to the lab!

Welcome to the Meaning and Modality (M&M) Laboratory at Harvard Linguistics! We are interested in understanding the uniquely human capacity for language, especially the ability to convey abstract, infinite, specific meanings across a variety of modes for natural language, including both speech and sign. Our work spans the subfields of formal semantics, pragmatics, syntax, bilingualism, language acquisition, and psycholinguistics in an effort to understand the relationship between linguistic meaning, language mode, language development, and human cognition.


Latest News

Kate at Northeastern, Johns Hopkins

March 25, 2019
Kate Davidson gave two invited talks this month, one at our Boston neighbor Northeastern Univeristy's department of Psychology, and the other at Johns Hopkins department of Cognitive Science

Our lab at the LSA!

January 5, 2019
Kate Henninger and Nancy Frishberg at the poster
Several members of our lab gave presentations at this year's LSA Annual Meeting in NYC Jan 4-6, including Kate Henninger, Taylor Joyce, Dorothy Ahn, Gunnar Lund, Becky Jarvis, Giuseppe Ricciardi, Chrissy Zlogar, and Kathryn Davidson.

Aurore, Kate H, and Kate D at NELS 49!

October 6, 2018
Aurore stands at a podium in front of a screen giving our NELS talk
Aurore Gonzalez presented joint work with Kate Henninger, & Kathryn Davidson  at NELS, on Answering negative questions in American Sign Language. (Talk)

Chrissy, Anna, and Kate at XPrag in Italy!

June 1, 2018
Chrissy Zlogar presenting results slide (bars chart and troll images)
  • Christina Zlogar presented joint work with Anna Alsop, and Kathryn Davidson (talk) at XPrag in Italy, on "Description and depiction in a reference game"

Kate and Annemarie at SALT 28!

May 19, 2018
  • Kathryn Davidson, Annemarie Kocab, Laura Wagner, and Andrea Sims (poster): Verbal form and event structure in sign languages. Link to our poster here.

3/30 invited speaker: Sandra Wood

March 30, 2018
Sandra Wood (University of Southern Maine)
Multiple Wh-Questions in ASL: Focus movement and D-linking
Friday, March 30 | 10:30 am | 2 Arrow Street, Room 420 (Buzzer #427)
(Talk in ASL, with interpreters.)
Abstract: I discuss cross-linguistic strategies for the questioning of multiple wh-phrases, exemplified through the relationship between focus movement and D-linking.  ASL exhibits an in-situ paradox, by which an object wh-phrase is allowed to remain in-situ in a single wh-question, but not in a multiple wh-question.  I show that this in-situ paradox is related to rightward movement of the wh-phrase for focus and the inability of D-linked wh-phrases to undergo focus movement.  Moreover, to understand why this is occurring, I argue that the mechanism of ‘unselective binding’ allows the wh-phrase to remain in-situ. These findings illustrate how ASL fits within the typological framework for the structure of wh-questions and how current theoretical approaches for wh-questions in the ASL research literature are not able to account for the in-situ paradox. 

Kate at PLC 42!

March 23, 2018
  • Kathryn Davidson  (invited talk): Signs, speech, and gesture: integrating continuous and discrete representations into a single proposition