Oliver Northrup

Research interests

Biased questions

My linguistics work deals with discourse structure and formal representations of not-at-issue meaning. The area I've investigated most heavily has to do with bias in high negation polar questions and tag questions. This is the umbrella that covered my dissertation research, advised by Donka Farkas.

Discourse particles

An analysis of discourse particles in Japanese and Singlish appears in Chapter 3 of my dissertation. The most mature part of this project involves the Japanese sentence-final particles yo and ne. The distribution of ne is similar to that of English tag questions, which implicates a connection to biased questions above.


Continuing with Japanese, grammaticalized systems of honorification have always held my attention; I'm very interested in formal syntactic and semantic representations of sonkeigo (尊敬語) and kensongo (謙遜語).


I've done work on back-transliteration of loanwords, advised by Junko Ito. The project used experimental methodologies to probe the underlying forms of loanwords, the results of which have a number of repercussions for perception and loanword adaptation.


Semantic comprehension also interests me. Specifically, I'm always trying to learn more about the nature of the module of sentence comprehension responsible for computing meaning, building mental representations of discourse, and making that information available for further language comprehension and general cognition.