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Hi, my name is Masha (Maria) Esipova. I am currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate and Lecturer in Linguistics at Princeton University.

I work on natural language semantics and its interfaces with syntax, pragmatics, and prosody. That is I study how we interpret the meaning of sentences and how that is affected by the structure of those sentences, the context in which they are uttered, and the intonation with which they are uttered. Apart from meaning of spoken language expressions, I am interested in how secondary modality content (such as hand gestures, facial expressions, iconic voice modulations, etc.) contributes to the meaning of spoken utterances.

In most of my current work I focus on how different types of so-called “not-at-issue” content (lexical presuppositions, appositives, non-restricting modifiers, expressives, etc.), spoken and gestural, pattern along various dimensions, such as projection from under semantic operators, ability to address questions, and behavior under ellipsis. Some other topics that I am interested in include questions and responses, event semantics, indexicals.

I received my PhD from the NYU Department of Linguistics in Spring 2019. In my dissertation I advocated for a composition-driven approach to projection of pieces of content that have their own nodes in the morphosyntax, and I argued that this approach applies to spoken and gestural content alike. Under this approach, how a given piece of content projects is uniformly determined by how it composes in the syntax/semantics. I show that this approach is efficient in explaining the projection behavior of a range of content types, both spoken and gestural, including spoken adjectives and appositives, hand gestures, facial expressions, phi-features on pronouns, and certain iconic properties of directional hand gestures. My dissertation committee members were Lucas Champollion (Chair), Ailís Cournane, Kathryn Davidson, Stephanie Harves, and Philippe Schlenker.

Most of my current work is primarily on English, but I often explore cross-linguistic data in my research. I have also worked a lot on my native language, Russian.

In my undergraduate years I did some research on Russian Sign Language (all my publications on RSL are in Russian). I am still very much interested in sign language linguistics, especially in how the semantics of sign language compares to that of spoken language combined with gesture.