Masha Esipova's portrait
Photo by Sarah Phillips

Hi, my name is Masha (Maria) Esipova. I am currently a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow (PI of EU project 891493 “GeMeTIC”) at the University of Oslo, Department of Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies. Before this, I was a Postdoctoral Research Associate and Lecturer in Linguistics at Princeton University (2019–2020). I hold a PhD in Linguistics from New York University (2019).

I am a formal semanticist with a profound interest in how meaning composition and meaning expression are situated within a larger architecture of grammar. Much of my current work focuses on performative meaning, i.e., meaning that is directly tied to the act of producing a certain form (such as expression of one's immediate feelings by uttering words like damn) and doesn't lend itself well to modeling in terms of truth conditions. Within truth-conditional meaning, I have also worked extensively on various aspects of the at-issue vs. not-at-issue distinction. In addition, I am interested in the syntax–semantics–pragmatics of event and situation descriptions, in how language can be used to maintain power imbalances and to fabricate false or misleading narratives, and in meaning–form mappings beyond language (with current focus on pictorial representations and athletic movement).

When working on a specific topic, I systematically look at how relevant meaning is expressed via various channels (e.g., for spoken language: strings of segments, prosody, hand and body gestures, facial expressions, etc.). By doing so, I acknowledge that we can combine conventionalized and non-conventionalized meaning–form mappings, where the form can in principle have any physical manifestation, within a single coherent compositional structure, and I aim to investigate both channel-independent universals of meaning composition as well as channel-specific constraints on meaning expression. In terms of specific languages, my research relies primarily on data from English and Russian, with occasional inclusions from other languages. In my undergraduate years, I also worked on Russian Sign Language (my publications from that time are all in Russian and are available on request) and hope to be able to work on signed languages again in the future.

Masha Esipova's CV in pdf