UCLA Linguistics
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Matt Pearson

UCLA Linguistics Dept. 
3125 Campbell Hall 
Los Angeles CA 90095-1543 
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    B.A. Thesis: On the peculiar behaviour of the Swedish s-passive: Relation-changing operations and the analysis of multifunctional surface markers.  (Discusses the syntax and interpretation of verbal reflexives in Swedish and other languages - e.g. Yidiny, French, Guugu Yimidhirr--within a Functional Grammar and Lexical-Functional Grammar framework.)
  • M.A. in Linguistics, UCLA, 1996
    M.A. Thesis: Raising and Restructuring in Malagasy Existentials. (Analyzes existential and possessor raising constructions in Malagasy as involving argument raising out of a nominal small clause complement, together with small clause restructuring). M.A. advisor: Anoop Mahajan.
  • Ph.D. in Linguistics, UCLA, 2001
    Ph.D. Dissertation:  The Clause Structure of Malagasy: A Minimalist Approach.  (Discusses features of Malagasy predicate-argument structure, verbal morphology, and word order within the framework of Chomsky's Minimalist Program and Kaye's Antisymmetry Theory).  Ph.D. advisors: Edward L. Keenan and Tim Stowell.

Downloadable Papers

  • Ph.D. dissertation: The Clause Structure of Malagasy: A Minimalist Approach (2001). Downloadable in PDF format.


  • Macaulay, M., M. Milligan, and M. Pearson. in preparation. Agreement and hierarchies in Distributed Morphology: Menominee Verb Inflection.  To appear in:  Proceedings of the 4th Workshop on the Structure and Constituency of the Languages of the Americas.
  • Pearson, M. forthcoming. T-marking on Malagasy obliques: Tense, aspect, and the position of PPs.  In: UCLA Working Papers in African Languages, ed. H. Torrence and P. Munro. UCLA Linguistics Department.
  • Pearson, M. 2001. The clause structure of Malagasy: A minimalist approach. UCLA Dissertations in Linguistics 21. UCLA Linguistics Department.
  • Pearson, M. 2000. Two types of VO languages. In: The derivation of VO and OV, ed. P. Svenonius. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Pearson, M. 2000. 'Tense' marking on Malagasy obliques and the syntax of telic events. In: Proceedings of AFLA VI, ed. C. Smallwood and C. Kitto. Toronto Working Papers in Linguistics. University of Toronto.
  • Pearson, M. 1999. Feature inheritance and remnant movement: Deriving SOV order under the LCA. In: UCLA Working Papers in Linguistics 3: Syntax at Sunset II, ed. G. Storto. UCLA Linguistics Department.
  • Pearson, M., ed. 1998. Recent papers in Austronesian linguistics: Proceedings of the third and fourth meetings of the Austronesian Formal Linguistics Association (AFLA). UCLA Occasional Papers in Linguistics 21. UCLA Department of Linguistics.
  • Pearson, M. 1998. Predicate raising and 'VOS' order in Malagasy. In: UCLA Occasional Papers in Linguistics 19: The structure of Malagasy, vol. II, ed. I. Paul. UCLA Linguistics Department.
  • Pearson, M. 1998. Rightward object shift and the syntax of adverbs. In: UCLA Occasional Papers in Linguistics 19: The structure of Malagasy, vol. II, ed. I. Paul. UCLA Linguistics Department.
  • Pearson, M. 1997. Pied-Piping into the Left Periphery. In: Proceedings of NELS 27, ed. K. Kusumoto. GLSA, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
  • Pearson, M. and I. Paul, eds. 1996. UCLA Occasional Papers in Linguistics 17: The Structure of Malagasy. UCLA Linguistics Department.
  • Pearson, M. 1996. Domain phrases and topic arguments in Malagasy existentials. In: UCLA Occasional Papers in Linguistics 17: The Structure of Malagasy, ed. M. Pearson and I. Paul. UCLA Linguistics Department.

Additional Papers

  • Pearson, M.  in preparation.  The Malagasy pivot as topic: Evidence from long-distance dependencies.

Invited Talks

  • "Deriving mirror-image word orders in Malagasy". Workshop on Antisymmetry Theory, Cortona, Italy, 15 May, 2000.
  • "Deriving 'inverted' word orders in Malagasy". University of Wisconsin (Madison) Linguistics Department colloquium series, 9 December, 1999.
  • "X(P)-movement and word order typology: Direct and inverse languages". MIT, 25 February, 1999.
  • "Tense marking on Malagasy PPs and the syntax of aspect". UCLA Workshop on Tense and Aspect, Lake Arrowhead, CA, 18 May, 1998.
  • "Feature inheritance, head movement, and pied-piping: Deriving head-final structures". Workshop on Japanese Syntax in a Comparative Context, LSA Summer Institute, Cornell University, 30 July, 1997.
  • Conference and Workshop Presentations

    • "Evidence for clausal pied-piping in Malagasy long-distance dependencies". AFLA VIII (Austronesian Formal Linguistics Association), MIT, 28 April, 2001.
    • "Agreement and hierarchies in Distributed Morphology: Menominee verbal inflection" [with Monica Macaulay and Marianne Milligan]. 4th Workshop on the Structure and Constituency of the Languages of the Americas, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 22 March, 2001.
    • "Tense(?)-marking on Malagasy PPs: An argument/non-argument asymmetry". AFLA VI, University of Toronto, 24 April, 1999.
    • "X(P)-movement and word order typology: 'Direct' versus 'inverse' languages. GLOW 99, Berlin, Germany, 30 March, 1999.
    • "Two types of VO languages". 2nd Tromsoe Syntax Workshop, University of Tromsoe, Norway, 22 May, 1998.
    • "Adjunct placement and object shift in Malagasy". AFLA IV, UCLA, 25 April, 1997.
    • "Pied-Piping and Expanded COMP in Malagasy". ConSOLE V (Conference of Students of Linguistics in Europe), University College London and SOAS, London, England, 17 December, 1996.
    • "Pied-Piping into the Left Periphery". NELS 27, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, 20 October, 1996.
    • "Domain Phrases: Overt Topics in Malagasy Existentials". AFLA III, UCLA, 27 April, 1996.

    Research Interests

    My current research interests include the following: 
    • The syntax of Malagasy
    • In addition to exploring the basic word order of Malagasy and related laguages within an Antisymmetry-style framework, I am also considering such issues as predicate-internal scrambling (object shift), the morphosyntax of voice (a.k.a. 'verbal focus') marking on verbs, the syntax of double object constructions/applicatives, topic/focus and wh-questions, tense and aspect (including the syntax of tense-marking on PPs and other obliques), and Case licensing.
    • Word order variation
    • I have a strong theoretical interest in theories (such as Kayne's Antisymmetry theory, Brody's Mirror theory, Chomsky's Bare Phrase Structure theory, etc.) which propose a maximally simple phrase structure, where principles of X-bar theory and word order variation are derived rather than being posited as primitives.  On the empirical side, I am interested in exploring deep structural differences and similarities between VSO/SVO languages like Irish and English, and VOS languages like Malagasy and Tzotzil, as well as between verb-initial and verb-final languages.
    • Argument structure and argument licensing 
    • Including such areas as Case theory, head movement and incorporation, aspectual classes, and predicate decomposition and the structural characterization of thematic roles (along the lines of Hale and Keyser (1993) and others).
    Other broader or more casual/occasional interests of mine include: 
    • Morphosyntactic theory in general
    • Morphosyntactic typology
    • The internal structure of DP
    • Morphological theory
    • Possessive, existential, and locative constructions
    • Resultative constructions, small clauses
    • Serial verb constructions
    • Tense and aspect
    • Relative clauses
    Languages on which I have done fieldwork: 
    • Malagasy
    • Nweh (Grassfields Bantu; SW Cameroon)
    • San Miguel Cuevas Mixtec (Oto-Manguean; Mexico)
    Other languages and language families with which I am familiar, or in which I have particular interest: 
    • Swedish, German, French, Russian, Mandarin
    • Australian languages (Yidiny, Warlpiri, Guugu Yimidhirr)
    • Algonquian languages (Cree, Menominee)
    • Mayan languages (Tzotzil)

    Employment Background and Activities

    For information on my employment history and academic service, see my CV (still under construction).

    Personal Info

    I was born in Vancouver, Canada (10 October 1969). Since then I've lived in Seattle, Pittsburgh, Champaign (Illinois), San Diego, Uppsala (Sweden), Portland (Oregon), Madison (Wisconsin), and Los Angeles. For the last eight years (off and on) I have been living in West Hollywood with my boyfriend Daniel. Some of my interests outside linguistics include:
    • Art (collage and assemblage, early to mid-20th c. art history)
    • Live theatre
    • Movies and film history
    • Cultural history
    • Constructed languages: This is a long-time hobby of mine. A few years ago I was hired to construct the alien Hive language for the short-lived NBC show "Dark Skies" (sometimes rerun on the SciFi Channel). I'm currently in the process of making available my latest project, a reference grammar for a model language called Tokana. For more information about constructed languages, see the following sites: 
    • Other web stuff I like:
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    Last updated: 20 April, 2001