Sarah Ouwayda
Linguistics Department, University of Geneva

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Profile

I am a semanticist (the syntactician type of semanticist), and a postdoctoral researcher in Theoretical and Computational Linguistics at the University of Geneva. And much of my work focuses on Arabic and semitic languages.

I completed my PhD in syntax and semantics at the University of Southern California in May 2014. My thesis committee consisted of: Professor Hagit Borer (Advisor), Professor Roumyana Pancheva (Co-chair), Professor Irene Heim, Professor Audrey Li, and Professor Kevin van Bladel

My PhD thesis is entitled "Where Number Lies". It focuses on the syntax of the noun phrase, looking specifically on plural marking, classifiers, numerals, and the collective/distributive distinction. In it, I argue that numerals have more than one merger site in the structure of a noun phrase, and that a numeral containing noun phrase receives a collective or distributive interpretation depending on the merger site of the numeral. A copy can be found here: [Ouwayda Thesis]

During my PhD, I spent a semester as a visiting PhD student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2011 (under the supervision of Professor Sabine Iatridou), and a year as a visiting research associate at Queen Mary University of London in 2013.

Research

My primary line of research over the last 5 years has focused on the syntax and semantics of DPs, with special attention to numerals. In particular, I look at the interpretation of numeral-containing DPs, with special attention to agreement and number marking, as well as at word order in the DP.
In my postdoctoral project, supervised by Paola Merlo, I work on using computational methods to evaluate and compare syntactic proposals using typological data. My latest research compares quantitatively the typological predictions of Cinque's (2005) phrasal movement account of word order in the DP to variants on his account that are based on different assumptions concerning the syntactic nature of numerals.