I am a formal semanticist, with interfacing interests in pragmatics, typology, syntax and cognitive science.

My primary interests lie in exploring how human beings compute complexity in meaning and structure, using formal mathematical and logical tools. My specific research topics so far have included modality (epistemic and deontic), evidentiality (nominal and propositional), questions (wh-, polar, biased, embedded, concealed) and question particles, discourse particles, lexical semantics of verbs/verb roots/the semantics of affixation (morpho-semantics interface), embedding and complementation, disjunction, and negative polarity items. I am also very interested in how typology and semantics interact and inform us about underlying universals in human linguistic systems.

My main empirical focus is South Asian languages, although recent joint work has focused on Romanian, Oromo, and Cantonese. Most of my data is gathered through virtual/irl native speaker surveys or onsite fieldwork.
For parts of Fall 2022, I was in the field in Meghalaya, India, studying modality and complementation in the very understudied Austro-Asiatic (Mon-Khmer branch) language, Khasi, funded by the NSF.

I was recently awarded the National Science Foundation CAREER grant for my 2022-2027 research project Theory, Fieldwork, and Typology: A Semantic/Pragmatic Triad in Underrepresented Linguistic Systems, within the NSF Division Of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences.
[dept. news]

Apart from the Institute of Linguistics, I am also a member of the graduate faculty in the Center for Cognitive Sciences at the University of Minnesota.

I am also actively interested in misinformation and disinformation research and how such digitized information packets interface with linguistic processing, computation of meaning online and causal connections with belief systems. I have been awarded a Grant-in-Aid award from the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) at UMN for my joint project with colleagues in Educational Psychology (CEHD) titled An experimental investigation of the linguistic properties of clickbait.

Prior to joining UMN, I received a Ph.D. in Linguistics with a Certificate in Cognitive Science from Rutgers University (2017), and was a Lecturer at the Department of Linguistics at Harvard University (2018 and 2019).


I organized (F)ASAL-11 at the University of Minnesota, March 26th-March 28th, 2021:
Formal Approaches to South Asian Languages conference

A dear friend and fellow semanticist passed away recently, I made a website to celebrate his works and his life:     Rahul Balusu, in memoriam


Journal Articles, Book Chapters, Under Review

Proceedings Papers

Invited Talks


2017. Evidentiality and Questions: Bangla at the Interfaces       RUCore       LingBuzz

Broadly speaking, two themes are intertwined in this dissertation: (i) perspective-sensitive elements such as evidentials and epistemic modals across different speech acts; (ii) embedded and unembedded disjunction and alternative questions. Both themes are explored from the lens of the syntax-semantics interface.

Refereed Presentations