On this page you can find papers, conference slides, and handouts available for download. For published papers, I have tried to provide versions that correspond as closely as possible with the final published work. Some discrepancies, however, are unavoidable, and I recommend accessing the published version for accurate citation. Published versions may be behind a paywall. Feel free to contact me with requests for anything not accessible here. A full list of publications and talks with proper citation information can be found in my cv.

(Forthcoming) Sentence-Final Particles: Marking the Territory of Information

With Eric McCready. Under Review for inclusion in Wesley M. Jacobsen and Yukinori Takubo (eds.), The Handbook of Japanese Semantics and Pragmatics.

[draft manuscript

A handbook chapter overviewing the formal semantics and pragmatics literature on sentence final particles in Japanese, and the implications of these particles for the theory of semantics, pragmatics, and their interface.
NOTE: The file provided here is a draft manuscript still under review; revisions are pending. Please contact one of the authors before citing.

(2016) Expressives in Questions

with Eric McCready. Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) 26: 753-772.

[online proceedings paper]
[semantics archive

This paper explores the interaction of expressive content with the operation of alternative generation in question denotations. We take as test cases expressive antihonorifics appearing in wh-words, wh-phrases and verbal morphology, and show that antihonorific content within the wh-phrase applies to all alternatives, while antihonorifics outside the wh-phrase apply only to true alternatives, closing with implications for the theory of expressive meaning. 

(2016) Phonological Reduction and the (Re)Emergence of Attributive Forms in Ryukyuan

With Tyler Lau. In Michael Kenstowicz, Ted Levin, and Ryo Masuda (eds.), Proceedings of Japanese/Korean Linguistics 23, 291-306.

[paper (preprint)]

In many Japono-Ryukyuan languages, there is a distinction between the conclusive and attributive forms of verbs. This distinction was lost in the transition from Old to Modern Japanese, in a process whereby a suffix that originally marked verbs as attributive was reanalyzed as a present tense marker. In this paper, we adduce evidence from Yaeyama Ryukyuan for an ongoing reanalysis going in the opposite direction, where a present tense suffix is being reanalyzed as an attributive marker.
Note: the linked paper is a preprint; page numbers differ from final published version. Publication date is 2016, two years later than the copyright date. 

(2015) Plurality and Distributivity in Yaeyaman Wh-Questions

In Sarah D’Antonio, Mary Moroney, and Carol Rose Little (eds), Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) 25, 636-655.

[online proceedings paper]
[semantics archive]

In Yaeyaman, a critically endangered Japonic language of the Southern Ryukyus, there is a distinction made between singular and plural wh-questions, with plurality indicated by reduplication of the indeterminate (wh) pronoun. I argue that reduplication of the indeterminate is triggered by a morpheme RED that requires the presence of non-atoms in the set of Hamblin alternatives denoted by its sister. When attached directly to an indeterminate pronoun, RED requires the presence of non-atomic, plural entities. I then show that reduplicated indeterminate subjects can be interpreted distributively in pair-list answers, while reduplicated indeterminate objects cannot. After showing that the distributive reading of the subject indeterminate cannot be modeled straightforwardly using a distributivizing operator attached to the VP, I suggest that it reflects morphological agreement between the subject indeterminate and a clause-level RED morpheme, which requires the existence of plural answers in the set of alternative propositions denoted by the question. The semantics of clause-level RED requires a distinction between atomic and plural answers that parallels the distinction between atomic and plural entities. I also compare the Yaeyaman data with reduplication in Korean questions, showing that the semantics of RED differs between the two languages. 

(2015) Use-Conditional Meaning and the Semantics of Pragmaticalization

With Daniel Gutzmann. 2015. In Eva Csipak and Hedde Zeijlstra (eds), Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 19, 197-213.

[online proceedings paper]
[full proceedings]

Pragmaticalization is the diachronic process by which propositional, truth-conditional semantic content develops into expressive, use- conditional content. Against the background of a multidimensional hybrid semantics, which employs both truth- and use-conditions to capture the entire conventional meaning of natural language expressions, this change can be understood as a diachronic type shift from truth-conditional to use- conditional meaning. We suggest that in general such shifts do not happen directly, but via an intermediate stage in which a 2-dimensional expression with mixed content is formed, which in a final stage may develop into pure use-conditional content. These concepts are applied to two cases of pragmaticalization: the antihonorific aspectual marker shimau in Japanese, and the expressive negation marker neenu in Miyara Yaeyaman, a related language of the Southern Ryukyus. As the second case study shows, pragmaticalization may also involve a process which we call pragmatic fission, in which a mixed expression splits into two separate items, leading to a lexical ambiguity between a plain truth-conditional expression and a purely use-conditional item.

(2015) Tense, Aspect, and Mood in Miyara Yaeyaman

With Tyler Lau. In Patrick Heinrich, Yukinori Takubo, and Michinori Shimoji (eds.), Handbook of the Ryukyuan Languages.

[prepublication chapter manuscript

We provide a descriptive overview of the Tense-Aspect-Mood (TAM) system of Miyara Yaeyaman, as encoded in its inflectional verbal morphology.

(2014) Evidentiality as a Causal Relation: A Case Study from Japanese youda

With Yurie Hara. In Christopher Piñón (ed.), Empirical Issues in Syntax and Semantics 10, pages 179-196. CSSP, Paris.


This paper explores the nature of indirect evidentiality on the basis of the Japanese evidential marker youda. We argue that the indirect evidentiality of youda can only be explained by reference to causal relations, rather than modal, probabilistic, or conditional dependencies.

(2014) The Role of Focus Particles in Wh-Interrogatives: Evidence from a Southern Ryukyuan Language.

In Robert E. Santana-LaBarge (ed.), Proceedings of the 31st West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics.


This paper examines the use of the focus particle du in wh-interrogatives in the Miyaran dialect of Yaeyaman (a southern Ryukyuan language spoken on Ishigaki and surrounding islands in Southwestern Okinawa). I propose a semantic account of several distributional properties of du, including the fact that its use is mandatory with wh-phrases in core argument positions, optional for wh-phrases in non-argument positions, and generally limited to one per clause. I argue that the use of du is associated with a higher operator that marks the material in its scope as contextually given. Marking a constituent with du allows material to escape the domain of givenness determined by this higher operator. I then show that, under a Hamblin semantics of questions, a wh-phrase must escape the domain of givenness to give a sensible question interpretation, and that constituents in core argument positions require du-marking to escape the givenness domain, while non-arguments can escape it without du-marking. This accounts for the fact that du-marking is mandatory for argument wh-phrases and optional for non-argument wh-phrases. It is further shown that in multiple wh-questions only one wh-phrase need be marked with du to derive a sensible interpretation, and that multiple du-marked constituents may be blocked due to an expressive intervention effect.

(2014) 沖縄県宮良方言 [The Miyara Dialect of Okinawa Prefecture]

文化庁委託事業「危機的な状況にある言語・方言の実態に関する調査研究」報告書2014年3月: 93-101.
[Field Research on the State of Endangered Languages and Dialects, Agency of Cultural Affairs, March 2014 Report: 93-101]

[prepublication manuscript]

This paper gives an overview of Miyara Yaeyaman, giving a language endangerment assessment in accordance with UNESCO standards for assessing language vitality.

(2013) Surface Position and Focus Domain of the Ryukyuan Focus Particle du: Evidence from Miyara Yaeyaman

IJOS: International Journal of Okinawan Studies 4(1) (Special Issue on Ryukyuan Languages): 29-49.


This paper examines the relationship between the grammatical position of the Ryukyuan focus particle du and its associated focus domain on the basis of data from Miyara Yaeyaman. The focus particle du is a characteristic feature of the entire Ryukyuan language group, and can be found from the northernmost regions in Amamiall the way to Yonaguni Island at the very southwestern edge of the Ryukyus. Descriptively, du has been labeled a focus marker and has often been taken to stand in opposition to the topic marker ja. Karimata (2011) calls du a focus particle, which in Yaeyaman serves to “focus a particular portion of non-imperative sentences”. I take this analysis as the starting point for the present paper, examining exactly which “particular portion” of the sentence it is that du targets. I label this portion of the sentence the focus domain and show that the relationship between this domain and the surface position of du is systematic but non-trivial.
NOTE: There are small difference between the version archived here and the published version, related to the treatment of the past tense suffix -i, which is here glossed MED (for “medial”), while in the final version it is glossed PST (for “past”).

(2013) Darou as a Deictic Context Shifter

With Yurie Hara. In Kazuko Yatsushiro & Uli Sauerland (eds.), Formal approaches to Japanese Linguistics 6, 41–56. MITWPL.


This paper investigates the distribution of the Japanese sentence-final particledarou. We proceed by examining the grammaticality and interpretation of darou-sentences while varying parameters such as clause type, boundary tone, and pragmatic context, and propose that darou is both a deictic expression pointing to the speaker’s beliefs as well as a context-shifter that manipulates the context in order to circumvent a possible violation of Gricean Quality.

(2011) Constraining Interpretation: Sentence Final Particles in Japanese

Doctoral Dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

[open access pdf]

This dissertation is concerned with how pragmatic particles interact with sentential force and with general pragmatic constraints to derive optimal dynamic interpretations. The primary empirical focus of the dissertation is the Japanese sentence final particle yo and its intonational associates. These right-peripheral elements are argued to interact semantically with sentential force in specifying the set of contextual transitions compatible with an utterance. In this way, they semantically constrain the pragmatic interpretation of the utterances in which they occur. These conventional constraints on interpretation are wedded with general pragmatic constraints which provide a further filter on the road to optimal interpretation.

(2010) Decision theory and discourse particles: a case study from a large Japanese sentiment corpus

Proceedings of the 24th Pacific Asia Conference on Language, Information, and Computation (PACLIC 24), 105-114.

[UMass Amherst Sentiment Corpora]

(2010) Affective demonstratives and the division of pragmatic labor

With Christopher Potts. In Maria Aloni and Katrin Schulz (eds.), Proceedings of the 17th Amsterdam Colloquium, 32-41.

[UMass Amherst Sentiment Corpora]

(2010) Scope and Prosody in the Japanese Contrastive Topic Construction

Workshop on Prosody, Syntax, and Information (WPSI), September 18 2010.


(2009) Decisions, Dynamics, and the Japanese Particle yo

Journal of Semantics 26(4):329-366.
published version doi: 10.1093/jos/ffp007

[prepublication paper]

I provide an account of the Japanese sentence-final particle yo within a dynamic semantics framework. I argue that yo is used with one of two intonational morphemes, corresponding to sentence-final rising or falling tunes. These intonational morphemes modify a sentence’s illocutionary force head, adding an addressee-directed update semantics to the utterance. The different intonational contours specify whether this update is monotonic or non-monotonic. The use of yo is then argued to contribute a pragmatic presupposition to the utterance saying that the post-update discourse context is one in which the addressee’s contextual decision problem is resolved. This proposal is shown to account for a range of constraints on the felicitous use of yo, including its restriction to addressee-new and addressee-relevant information in assertions, as well as its behaviour in imperatives and interrogatives.
NOTE: The version archived here is a prepublication version, differing slightly from the published version. The published version can be accessed from the doi link given above.

(2009) The pragmatics of expressive content: Evidence from large corpora

With Noah Constant, Christopher Potts, and Florian Schwarz. Sprache und Datenverarbeitung 33(1-2):5-22.

[UMass Amherst Sentiment Corpora]

We use large collections of online product reviews, in Chinese, English, German,and Japanese, to study the use conditions of expressives (swears, antihonorifics, intensives). The distributional evidence provides quantitative support for a pragmatic theory of these items that is based in speaker and hearer expectations.

(2009) Expressives and Identity Conditions

With Christopher Potts, Luis Alonso-Ovalle, Ash Asudeh, Rajesh Bhatt, Seth Cable, Yurie Hara, Angelika Kratzer, Eric McCready, Tom Roeper, and Martin Walkow. Linguistic Inquiry 40:356-366.
published version doi: 10.1162/ling.2009.40.2.356

[prepublication paper]

We present diverse evidence for Pullum and Rawlins’s (2007) claim that expressives behave differently from descriptives in constructionsthat enforce a particular kind of semantic identity between elements. Our data are drawn from a wide variety of languages and construction types, and they point uniformly to a basic linguistic distinction between descriptive content and expressive content (Kaplan 1999, Potts 2007).

(2008) Contexts, decisions, and the Japanese particle yo.

Paper presented at Logic and Engineering of Natural Language (LENLS) 2008.

[paper] [slides]

The Japanese sentence final discourse particle yo is argued to contribute a non-assertive meaning component which serves as a guide to the addressee’s optimal action. A semantics of yo is provided that accounts for its use across a range of contexts and clause types. Japanese is shown to require a particle like yo in many contexts to license utterances that are felicitous without particles in a language like English. The pragmatic licensing is shown to follow directly from the proposed semantics of yo, which conventionally encodes a relevance relation that is left implicit in a language like English.

(2007) The pragmatic values of evidential sentences.

With Christopher Potts and Margaret Speas. In Masayuki Gibson and Tova Friedman (eds.), Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistic Theory 17, 71-88. Ithaca, NY: CLC Publications.

[paper] [slides]

A novel approach to the pragmatic effects of evidential morphemes is laid out, relying on the idea that evidential morphemes are context-shifting operators targeting a contextual quality threshold.

(2006) Evidence against movement in Japanese relative clauses

Handout from presentation given at ECO5 2006, MIT.