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McMaster University

Faculty of Humanities

Dr. Ivona Kučerová

Professor of Linguistics

Linguistics & Languages
McMaster University

Centre for Advanced Research in Experimental and Applied Linguistics (ARiEAL), Director

kucerov at mcmaster dot ca



Ivona Kucerova
Dr. Ivona Kučerová


Generative grammar of the Chomskyan tradition assumes a modular grammar architecture that makes a strict distinction between (narrow) syntax and the articulatory and the interpretive modules. My research focuses on questions involving the precise nature of syntactic computations, and how they can be modeled to interact with the interfaces, especially the syntax-semantics interface. I assume a rigorous interpretation of the idea that syntax is autonomous and strive to show that cases where it appears that semantic information needs to be present in the syntax can be accounted for within a strict Y model. My work not only discusses new and diverse empirical findings, but crucially aims to show that derivations can be designed in a way that will not violate the Y model.

Over the last six years, my research has shifted toward the intersection of theoretical and applied linguistics, specifically, in the domain of Indigenous language reclamation. I currently hold two federal grants, with Indigenous partners, that focus on language reclamation in the domain of adult immersion, and infant- and children-oriented languages, including lullabies.

In conjunction with creating foundations for meaningful Indigenous research guided by principles of co-design with Indigenous communities, scholars and stakeholders, my research has been expanding toward experimental linguistics as a methodological tool to answer grammar architecture questions that are challenging to answer with more traditional linguistics tools. I am currently building a new experimental linguistics lab (EEG and eye-tracking, funded by CFI-JELF; to be operational in the fall of 2023).

Syntax: phi-features, Agree, labelling; well-formedness conditions on syntactic structure; extension requirements of certain functional heads; null subjects, verbal mophology, head movement; Case

Syntax-semantics interface: presuppositions and their grammatical realization; information structure: givenness, focus, alternatives; left periphery (second position phenomena, freezing effects); structure of DP (split constructions, NP versus DP, quantification); agreement and its semantic effects

Fieldwork and language revitalization: Inuttut, Mohawk, Oneida, Tuscarora

Phonology-morphology: inflectional versus derivational morphology; number

Language families: Slavic, Germanic, Semitic, Romance, Inuit, Northern Iroquoian, Semitic


I lead the syntax lab at McMaster University. The lab investigates syntactic structures, i.e., combinatorial properties, of natural languages from the general-cognition perspective. We use both traditional fieldwork and experimental methods to collect data from cross-linguistically diverse languages, including indigenous languages of Canada, in order to identify and model universal and language-specific structural properties human languages have.

I currently advise four PhD students, 2 Masters students and one postdoctoral fellow. Please get in touch if you’d like to work with me (include your research interests and CV). The full info about our graduate program in Cognitive Science of Language can be found here. The Funding section of this page contains info on my currently funded projects.

last updated August 2023