Linguistics and English Language

Meaning and grammar

Syntax, semantics, pragmatics, morphology and their interfaces

The meaning and grammar group conducts research in a wide range of core areas of linguistic theory, including syntax, semantics, pragmatics, morphology and the interface between those areas. Members of the group work as individuals, in collaboration with each other, and in partnership with other researchers in Edinburgh and at other universities.

The research group provides a regular forum for presentation of original research in this area being carried out by group members, and scholars from outside Edinburgh. It also constitutes a grouping for planning and organising collaborative research.


Staff who work in this area include:

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Research interests

Dr Peter Ackema

Theoretical syntax and morphology; interaction between morphology and syntax; lexical integrity effects; phrasal derivation
Professor Ronnie Cann Formal syntax, semantics and pragmatics and the interaction between them; dynamic Syntax
Dr Chris Cummins Experimental semantics and pragmatics; quantity expressions; implicature; presupposition; dialogue modelling

Dr Kajsa Djärv

Semantics, pragmatics, and their interfaces with syntax; argument-structure, clausal complementation and attitude reports, speech acts, presupposition.

Professor Nikolas Gisborne

Syntax, particularly dependency theory and word grammar; events and event structure; lexical semantics; language change
Professor Caroline Heycock Syntactic theory; syntactic variation and change; Germanic; Japanese
Dr Itamar Kastner Morphology; syntax; argument structure; lexical semantics; morphophonology; interfaces between grammatical modules; computational modelling; lexical processing

Professor Alex Lascarides


Theoretical and computational linguistics; semantics; pragmatics; logic and knowledge representation
Dr Catherine Lai Speech prosody, spoken language understanding, affective computing, semantics, pragmatics, information structure

Dr Brian Rabern


Philosophy of language; formal semantics; philosophical logic
Professor Hannah Rohde Experimental pragmatics; coreference; coherence
Dr Wolfgang Schwarz Structure and interpretation of probability in science, the status of laws, and selected topics in philosophy of physics and cognitive science
Professor Antonella Sorace Language development in child and adult bilinguals; bilingualism and general cognition; gradience at the lexicon-syntax interface

Professor Mark Steedman


Computational linguistics; spoken intonation; spoken language processing
Professor Rob Truswell

Syntax; semantics; language change; diachronic typology; locality; event structure

Dr Wataru Uegaki Semantics, Syntax, Pragmatics and their interfaces. Especially, clausal complementation, questions, the semantics of attitudinal predicates and constraints on lexical denotations

Postgraduate study

For further information about postgraduate study in meaning and grammar, contact Professor Nikolas Gisborne.

Nikolas Gisborne


The meaning and grammar group meets roughly every two weeks, to discuss theoretical issues of common interest, work in progress or published papers. There are also occasional informal presentations by invited speakers from outside Edinburgh.

To subscribe to the group's mailing list and hear about future events, go to the mailing lists service and click on 'subscribe'.

Mailing lists service 

Meaning and grammar meetings

In addition to meetings of the full group, there are more specialised reading groups that meet informally on an occasional basis. The current groups focus on formal semantics (contact Wataru Uegaki for details), and on general syntax (contact Takanobu Nakamura for details). EdinMorph is an interdisciplinary reading and discussion group for morphology and its interfaces (contact Itamar Kastner to be added to the dedicated MS Team). For postgraduate students who are interested in semantics/pragmatics, get in touch with the student-led SemiCircle (Anna Katarina Page).