Alexander Williams

Associate Professor

Departments of Linguistics and Philosophy

University of Maryland

Email at via alxndrw

1401 Marie Mount Hall, College Park MD, 20742

My work is about meaning and grammar, in relation to the human faculty for language.


Words often describe relations. When and how do the relations a word implies matter to the grammatical structure it occupies, or to the thoughts we express in using it? I pursue this question through semantic and syntactic analysis of argument relations, explicit and putatively implicit, as well as through studies of their acquisition by infants, and online comprehension by adults. The idea that some such relations are implicit relates to a guiding interest in the division between semantics and pragmatics.


Semantics - verbs, events, thematic relations, implicit arguments, pragmatics, epistemic modals

Philosophy -  events, the semantics-pragmatics division, philosophy of linguistics

Syntax - argument structure, complex predicates, syntactic theories

Psycholinguistics - acquisition and processing of argument relations and anaphora

Languages - Sinitic, Turkic, Tibeto-Burman, Igbo


Undergraduate courses - Philosophy of language, special courses (e.g., language and metaphysics, innate ideas, not meaning what you say)

Graduate courses - Semantics 1, Pragmatics, various seminars (e.g., implicit meaning, argument structure, syntactic theories, meaning in psycholinguistics, meaning and distribution)

Dissertations chaired  - Michael McCourt, Quinn Harr, Jeff Green, Michaël Gagnon

Advisees and students - Malhaar Shah, Jéssica Mendes, Michael McCourt, Tyler Knowlton, Anouk Dieuleveut, Laurel Perkins, Quinn Harr, Rachel Dudley, Jeff Green, Angela He, Alexis Wellwood, Michaël Gagnon, Tim Hunter, Scott Fults

Dissertation committees I have served on - Mina Hirzel (2022), Hanna Muller (2022), Yu'an Yang (2022), Yichi Raven Zhang (2022), Anouk Dieuleveut (2021),  Casey Enos (2021), Tyler Knowlton (2021),  Paulina Lyskawa (2021), Sigwan Thivierge (2021), Casey Enos, Annemarie van Dooren (2020), Chia-Hsuan Liao (2020), Laurel Perkins (2019), Rachel Dudley (2017), Zoe Schlueter (2017), Juliana Gerard (2016), Angela Xiaoxue He (2015), Andrew Knoll (2015), Kaitlyn Harrigan (2015), Chris Vogel (2015), Sol Lago (2014), Chris Laterza (2014), Alexis Wellwood (2014), Brooke Larson (2013), Yu Izumi (2012), Alex Drummond (2011), Tim Hunter (2010), Scott Fults (2006)