The faculty and students who are researching a wide range of topics in Syntax use quantifiable experimental methods to collect data, in order to perform theoretical syntactic research.

Dr. Dennis Storoshenko’s research is empirically driven, making use of diverse methodologies, including corpus work, traditional field elicitation, and psycholinguistic experimentation. His research focuses on issues at the interface of syntax and semantics, primarily on areas of scope, question formation, and reference resolution (binding).

Dr. Elizabeth Ritter’s research focuses on syntactic structure, its morphological composition, and its contribution to lexical semantics. To date her work has been based on data from a variety of languages including English, Blackfoot, Hebrew, Haitian Creole, and French. In current research, she is exploring tenselessness, and its implications for clause structure in Blackfoot, as well as typological patterns in pronouns, and interactional language.

Students: Mahyar Nakhaei (PhD), Kang Xu (PhD), Francisco Ongay González (PhD), Jesse Weir (PhD), Qiu Peng (MA), Shayne Shapkin (MA), Ya’ara Gurel (Honour’s Student)

Location: CHD 501B

A collage of syntax trees

The Syntax Lab

The Syntax Lab facilities

The Syntax Lab is equipped with Mac computers running PsychoPy and access to a shared lab with a 1000Hz-resolution EyeLink system and Experiment Builder.

Experimental Syntax Reading Group

We have a regular reading group to talk about a combination of theoretical work underlying some of what we are up to, and experiments that we can use as inspiration for further work. The idea of this group is to get together, read papers, and discuss a) the analysis and b) how the analysis makes predictions for future studies and interacts with the data we are already collecting.

If you’re interested in joining, contacto Dr. Dennis Storoshenko.




Ritter, E., & Wiltschko, M. (2019). Nominal speech act structure: Evidence from the structural deficiency of impersonal pronouns. Canadian Journal of Linguistics, 1-21. doi:10.1017/cnj.2019.10. 


Ritter, E. (2018). Possible and impossible animacy shifts. Theoretical Linguistics, 44(1-2), 71-79. [This paper is an invited commentary on de Swart & de Hoop’s target article Shifting Animacy.]


Kim, K., Ritter, E., Wiltschko, M., & Rullman, H. (2017). 2+2 = 3: Number contrasts in Blackfoot. Glossa 2(1). DOI:


Storoshenko, D. R. (2016). The Shona reflexive as covert anaphoraCanadian Journal of Linguistics/Revue canadienne de linguistique, 61(2), 156-189.


Han, C. H., Storoshenko, D. R., Leung, B. H. M., & Kim, K. M. (2015). The time course of long-distance anaphor processing in Korean. Korean Linguistics, 17(1), 1-32. 

Wiltschko, M., & Ritter, E. (2015). Animating the narrow syntax. The Linguistic Review 32(4), 869-908.


Ritter, E. (2015). Featuring animacyNordlyd, 41(1), 103-124.

Ritter, E., & Wiltschko, M. (2014). The composition of INFL. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory, 32(4), 1331-1386.


Storoshenko, D. R., & Han, C. H. (2013). Using synchronous tree adjoining grammar to model the typology of bound variable pronouns. Journal of Logic and Computation, 25(2), 371-403.



Storoshenko, D., & Abdollahnejad, E. (2019). Testing Mixed Influences on Reference Resolution in Persian. Poster Presented at the 2019 Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America: New York, NY, Jan 2019.

Abdollahnejad, E., & Storoshenko, D. (2019). On Object Position in Persian Ditransitives: Movement or Base Generation? Poster Presented at the 2019 Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America: New York, NY, Jan 2019.

Nakhaei, M. (2019, Jan). The Interplay of Memory and Sentence Structure on the Resolution of Persian Pronouns. Annual Meeting of Linguistic Society of America, New York: NY, Jan 2019. 


Gerke, K. & Storoshenko, D. (2018). Picturing Syntax: Cross-Linguistic Variation in the Interpretation of Emoji Strings. Poster Presented at the 2018 Meeting of the Canadian Linguistic Association: Regina, SK, May 2018.

Nakhaei, M. (2018). Individual Differences in the Resolution of Persian Pronouns: The Case of Working Memory. Alberta
Conference on Linguistics, Calgary, AB (October, 2018).

Nakhaei, M. (2018). The L1 Effect on L2 Pronoun Resolution: The Case of Persian-speaking EFL Learners. Canadian Linguistics Association Annual Meeting, Regina, SK (May 2018).

Peng, H. 2018. The modality effect on interpretations of the Mandarin reflexive ziji. In Alberta Conference on Linguistics 2018.

Peng, H. 2018. Reflector as a special point-of-view-The Mandarin reflexive ziji. In Northwest Linguistics Conference 34.

Peng, H. 2018. A deviant tone in Taiyuan Mandarin – a case study of tone-intonation interaction. In the 8th Annual Undergrad Linguistic Colloquium of University of Calgary.

*You can view more of Dr. Storoshenko’s conference papers on his website.


Nakhaei, M. (2017). The Resolution of English Pronouns by Persian-speaking EFL Learners. Alberta Conference on Linguistics, Edmonton, AB (October 2017).

Peng, H. 2017. A force-theoretic approach to the Mandarin ba-construction. In the 29th North American Conference of Chinese Linguistics.

Peng, H. 2017. A force-theoretic approach to Mandarin single-clause resultative constructions. In Proceedings of the 2017 CLA, ed. By Andrew Alexander Monti, Canadian Linguistic Association.


Peng, H. 2016. Null subjects in children’s Chinese: A corpus study. In Alberta Conference on Linguistics 2016.

Book Chapters


Ritter, E. (to appear). Sentience based Event structure: Evidence from Blackfoot. In Festschrift for Elizabeth Cowper, ed. by Bronwyn. Bjorkman and Daniel Currie Hall. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Bliss, H., Ritter, E., & Wiltschko, M. (to appear). Inverse systems and person hierarchy effects. The Routledge Handbook
of North American Languages, ed. by Daniel Siddiqi, Michael Barrie, Carrie Gillon, Jason Haugen and Eric Mathieu. New York: Taylor & Francis/Routledge.


Ritter, E. (2014). Nominalizing inner-aspect: Evidence from Blackfoot. Cross linguistic investigations of nominalization patterns, 20-50.


Ritter, E., & Rosen, S. T. (2010). Animacy in Blackfoot: Implications for event structure and clause structure. Syntax, lexical semantics and event structure, 124-152.