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 the multiple modalities for natural language, including but not limited to speech and sign. Our work spans the subfields of formal semantics, pragmatics, syntax, language acquisition, logic and psycholinguistics in an effort to understand the relationship between linguistic meaning, language mode, language development, and human cognition.


Latest News

Congratulations to our graduates!

May 26, 2022
Huge congratulations to M&M lab members who celebrated their graduations this week, including Natalia Bermudez (AB '22), Joanna Alstott (AB '22), Josh Martin (PhD '22) and Ethan Wilcox (PhD '22)!

Shannon, Giuseppe, and Kate at ELM

May 20, 2022
Lecture hall with roughly 30-40 attendees in masks, woman presenting is shown on screen (hybrid conference)
Shannon Bryant, Giuseppe Ricciardi, and Kate Davidson recently visited UPenn to present short talks at Experiments in Linguistic Meaning 2. Shannon presented some of her dissertation work in the MM Lab on "Are they touching? Contact and pronoun choice in English prepositional phrases", Giuseppe presented joint work with Ted Gibson on "Are they touching? Contact and pronoun choice in English prepositional phrases" and and Kate presented joint work with Masoud Jasbi and Natalia Bermudez on "Logical connectives: An extendable experimental paradigm". Shannon and Kate even got to take the train to Philadelphia!

Dr. Martin!

May 5, 2022
Three people smiling: one white man with glasses and brown jacket, one white man with glasses and black jacket, white woman with black top and skirt and brown hair
Josh Martin defended his dissertation on Compositional routes to (non)intersectivity, which investigates how adjectival/nominal modification works on the morphosyntactic, syntactic, syntactic/semantic, and semantic/conceptual levels, by paying special attention to edge cases such as privative adjectives (his committee was Kate Davidson, Jonathan Bobalijk, and Gennaro Chierchia). We're very lucky that Josh will still be near Cambridge next year, in his new position working at Spotify's Boston offices. Huge congratulations, Josh!!

Dr. Wilcox!

May 4, 2022
Three people smiling, one white man with glasses and white shirt, one white man with white shirt and brown hair, white woman with pink shirt and brown hair
Ethan Wilcox defended his dissertation, titled Informative presupposition and accomodation (committee co-chaired by Roger Levy and Kate Davidson, with Gennaro Chierchia). Ethan's project involved extensive quantitative data collection on presupposition accommodation across wide varieties of contexts, and a theoretical proposal for what accounts for such variation in accommodation across triggers. Next year he'll be doing a postdoc at ETH in Zurich. Huge congratulations, Ethan!!

Yuhan and Kate at CLS

April 27, 2022
Yuhan Zhang stands at a podium in front of a slide with pictures from the Disney movie Sleeping beauty (Aurore and a single prince, and then Aurore thinking about prince things)

Kate Davidson and Yuhan Zhang recently returned from Chicago to present at the 58th annual conference of the Chicago Linguistic Society: Yuhan presented her work with Kate on "Competing de dicto terms reduce de re acceptability" (pictured) and Kate presented an invited talk on "Semiotic distinctions in compositional semantics".

Josh to Spotify

April 2, 2022
Josh Martin (PhD class of 2022) accepted a job to start this summer as a User Research Analyst witb Spotify - huge congratulations!!! And lucky us, he'll be working at the Spotify offices right here in Boston!

Lab at HSP 2022

March 22, 2022
The Human Sentence Processing (HSP, formerly CUNY) conference will have several presentations by lab members and friends of the lab, including a poster by Shannon Bryant on "Expectation as a predictor of pronoun acceptability in English prepositional phrases", a poster by Ethan Wilcox, Roger Levy, and Kate Davidson on "How anaphoric are presupposition triggers? Evidence from cataphora", and an invited talk by Kate Davidson on "A framework for parallel sources of sentence meaning".

MBB grant to Ankana

March 22, 2022
Congratulations to Ankana Saha, who recently received a graduate student award from the Mind, Brian, and Behavior Initiative at Harvard to support her participation in NASSLLI this summer at the University of Southern California! 

Lab at the LSA 2022

November 19, 2021
Several folks in the lab are giving presentations at the LSA this January: "Accounting for variability in the truth-evaluation of bare epistemic possibility statements" by Giuseppe Ricciardi and Josh Martin, "Privatives across phases: disambiguating the sources of adnominal modification," by Josh Martin, "Location, Location, Location: Anaphora selection in English locative prepositional phrases," by Shannon Bryant, "Narrow Scoping Content Question Items in Shifty Contexts: A Case of Surprising Non-Quotation in Uyghur," by Jack Rabinovitch, "Demonstrative Shift and Proximal Markedness," by Tess Monks and Kate Davidson, and "Depictive versus patterned iconicity and dual semantic representations," by Kate Davidson

Autumn on campus again

October 4, 2021

A recent beautiful New England fall day near our lab meant some turkey visitors, a bubble tea break, and urban breakthrough blooms 

A collage of 3 pictures: 2 turkeys, 4 students on an outside patio with a blue sky, and some orange flower among concrete