Marcin Morzycki

Research interests

In five words

Semantics, syntax, and their interface.

In slightly more than five words

Most of my work centers on various aspects of the grammar of modification. It’s not at all obvious that this actually constitutes a natural class of phenomena, but whether it does so is an interesting question in itself. One issue I have been thinking about in the last few years is how gradability works in non-adjectival syntactic contexts. I’ve also been working on degree modifiers, including both the more familiar sort found in the extended AP and what I believe to be their analogues elsewhere. Other topics I have worked on less recently include nonrestrictive modification, measure phrases, modification of quantifiers, adverbial modification, expressive meaning, and apparently semantic restrictions on modifier order. Much of my work also reflects a fondness for phenomena that might be regarded as peripheral but turn out to be productive and, in the ideal case, to bear on more general theoretical questions.

For non-linguist humans

What theoretical linguists in general do is try to figure out what exactly it is you know when you know a language. One aspect of this is knowledge of meaning. That’s what I work on. I usually think about how the meanings of sentences are assembled from the meanings of words, and what this tells us about the meanings of the words themselves. I seem to have fixated on various puzzles involving modifiers—bits of a sentence that, in general, can be left out without making the sentence sound strange. That’s a broad topical focus, but there is also an intellectual aesthetic running through a lot of my work: I really like linguistic phenomena that might superficially seem minor or idiosyncratic but that nevertheless turn out to be systematic and (hopefully) shed light on larger theoretical issues.

But never mind this…

Really, in order to get a sense of what I do, you should just look at my work instead.