Professor and Distinguished University Scholar
Acting Head, 2017-2018

Ph.D., University of British Columbia, 1996
Determiner Systems and Quantificational Strategies: Evidence from Salish
(Co-winner of the Prize for Outstanding Dissertation in Language, Logic and Computation, European Association for Logic, Language and Information / FoLLI)

Areas of Interest

My research focuses on cross-linguistic variation in the semantics and pragmatics, and what variation (or the lack of it) tells us about Universal Grammar. I have been doing fieldwork on St’át’imcets (Lillooet Salish) since 1992, on Gitksan (Tsimshianic) since 2010, and on Niuean (Austronesian) since 2012. I have worked on a range of areas in semantics and the syntax/semantics interface, including determiners, quantifiers, pronouns, adverbs, lexical categories, tense, aspect, modals, mood, evidentials, mood, discourse particles and presupposition. My research also focuses on the methodology of semantic fieldwork, and on endangered language preservation and oral history. I am involved in community language preservation initiatives, including contributing to the First Voices website for Northern St’át’imcets.

Visit our website for storyboards for semantic elicitation! Totem Field Storyboards

Current Research Grants

Tense and Aspect Systems in Human Language: Evidence from Salish, Tsimshianic, Na-Dene and Austronesian (SSHRC; Co-Investigator: Hotze Pullman), 2016-2021

Tense and Aspect in Children’s Bookreading Experiences (Hampton Research Fund; with Carla Hudson Kam)

Cross-Linguistic Expressions of Modality (SSHRC; Co-Investigator: Hotze Rullmann), 2011-2015

Courses Currently Teaching

Winter 2017

LING530J Linguistic Problems in a Special Area - PROB IN SPC AREA Sections

Winter 2017

LING546F Directed Reading in Topics related to Linguistics - DIRECTED READING Sections


Matthewson, Lisa and Hubert Truckenbrodt 2017. Modal flavour/modal force interactions in German: soll, sollte, muss and müsste. Ms. (under review)

Bicevskis, Katie, Henry Davis and Lisa Matthewson in press. Quantification in Gitksan. Denis Paperno and Edward Keenan (eds.), Handbook of Quantification in Natural Languages Volume II. Dordrecht: Springer.

Matthewson, Lisa and Jennifer Glougie in press. Justification and Truth: Evidence from Languages of the World. In Mizumoto, Masaharu, Stephen Stich and Eric McCready (eds.), Epistemology for the Rest of the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Matthewson, Lisa 2017. Semantics in Indigenous American Languages: 1917-2017 and Beyond. International Journal of American Linguistics 83(1):141-172.

Chen, Sihwei, Vera Hohaus, Rebecca Laturnus, Meagan Louie,
Lisa Matthewson, Hotze Rullmann, Ori Simchen, Claire K. Turner, Jozina Vander Klok 2017. Past possibility cross-linguistically: Evidence from 12 languages. In Ana Arregui, Maria-Luisa Rivero and Andres Salanova (eds.), Modality Across Syntactic Categories. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 236-287.

Matthewson, Lisa 2016. Modality. in Maria Aloni and Paul Dekker (eds.), Cambridge Handbook of Formal Semantics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 726-775.

Hudson Kam, Carla and Lisa Matthewson 2016. Introducing the Infant Bookreading Database. Journal of Child Language, 1-20.

Davis, Henry and Lisa Matthewson 2016. Against All Expectations: The Meaning of St’át’imcets séna7. Papers for the International Conference on Salish and Neighbouring Languages 51,
ed. Marianne Huijsmans, Thomas J. Heins, Oksana Tkachman, and Natalie Weber, 2016. Vancouver, BC: UBC Working Papers in Linguistics 42, 37-67.

Salles, Raiane and Lisa Matthewson 2016. Existentials and (in)definiteness in Pirahã. In Thuy Bui and Rudmila-Rodica Ivan (eds.), Proceedings of the Ninth Conference on the Semantics of Under-Represented Languages in the Americas. Amherst, MA: GLSA, 127-140.

Weber, Natalie and Lisa Matthewson 2016. The Semantics of Blackfoot Arguments. Proceedings of the Algonquian Conference 45, 213-232.

Callahan, Elliot, Henry Davis, John Lyon and Lisa Matthewson (eds.) 2016. Sqwéqwel’ Múta7 Sptakwlh: St’át’imcets Narratives by Qwa7yán’ak. Vancouver, BC and Lillooet, BC: UBC Occasional Papers in Linguistics and the Upper St’át’imc Language, Culture and Education Society.
Matthewson, Lisa, Heidi Quinn and Lynsey Talagi 2015. Inchoativity Meets the Perfect Time Span: The Niuean Perfect. Lingua 168:1-36.

Davis, Henry, Carrie Gillon and Lisa Matthewson 2015. Diversity Driven But Cognitively Constrained: Boas Meets Chomsky (Response to Commentators). Language 91(3):e127-e143.

Matthewson, Lisa 2015. Evidential Restrictions on Epistemic Modals. In Luis Alonso-Ovalle and Paula Menendez-Benito (eds.), Epistemic Indefinites. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 141-160.

Vander Klok, Jozina and Lisa Matthewson 2015Distinguishing ‘Already’ from Perfect Aspect: A Case Study of Javanese ‘Wis’. Oceanic Linguistics 54(1):172-205.

Bochnak, Ryan and Lisa Matthewson (eds.) 2015. Methodologies in Semantic Fieldwork. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Burton, Strang and Lisa Matthewson 2015. Targeted Construction Storyboards in Semantic Fieldwork. In R. Bochnak and L. Matthewson (eds.), Methodologies in Semantic Fieldwork. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 135-156.

Matthewson, Lisa 2014. The Measurement of Semantic Complexity: How to Get By If Your Language Lacks Generalized Quantifiers. In Fritz Newmeyer and Laurel Preston (eds.), Formal Complexity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 241-263.

Davis, Henry, Carrie Gillon and Lisa Matthewson 2014. How to Investigate Linguistic Diversity: Lessons from the Pacific Northwest. Language 90(4):e180-e226.

Weber, Matthewson and Natalie Weber 2014. Reflections of Complement Type: The View from Blackfoot. In Luka Crnic and Uli Sauerland (eds.), The Art and Craft of Semantics: A Festschrift for Irene Heim. Cambridge, MA: MITWPL, 275-298.

Arkoh, Ruby and Lisa Matthewson 2013. A Familiar Definite Article in Akan. Lingua 123:1-30.

Matthewson, Lisa 2013. Gitksan Modals. International Journal of American Linguistics 79:349-394.

Matthewson, Lisa 2013. On How (Not) to Uncover Cross-Linguistic Variation. Proceedings of the North East Linguistic Society 42. Amherst, MA: GLSA, 323-342.

Matthewson, Lisa 2013. Strategies of Quantification in St’át’imcets and the Rest of the World. In Kook-hee Gil, Stephen Harlow and George Tsoulas (eds.), Strategies of Quantification. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Matthewson, Lisa submitted. Evidence Type, Evidence Location, Evidence Strength. Non-final version; submitted to a volume edited by Chungmin Lee and Jinho Park.

Matthewson, Lisa 2012. A Fieldworker’s Guide to the Semantics of Noun Phrases. Talk given at Amazonicas 4, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Peru, Lima.

Gutiérrez, Analía and Lisa Matthewson 2012. Evidential Determiners: Best (Sensory) Evidence. The Proceedings of SULA 6: The Semantics of Under-Represented Languages in the Americas. Amherst, MA: GLSA, 63-79.

Matthewson, Lisa 2012. On the (Non-)Future Orientation of Modals. Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 16, Volume 2. Cambridge, MA: MIT Working Papers in Linguistics, 431-446.

Matthewson, Lisa 2012. When Fieldwork Meets Theory: Evidence About Evidentials. In Britta Stolterfoht and Sam Featherston (eds.), Empirical Approaches to Linguistic Theory: Studies of Meaning and Structure. Berlin: De Gruyter, Studies in Generative Grammar Series, 85-114.

Matthewson, 2010. Cross-linguistic Variation in Modality Systems: The Role of Mood. Semantics and Pragmatics 3, Article 9, 1-74.

Matthewson, Lisa to 2010. On Apparently Non-Modal Evidentials. Empirical Issues in Syntax and Semantics, ed. Olivier Bonami & Patricia Cabredo Hofherr,, 333-357.

Davis, Henry, Meagan Louie, Lisa Matthewson, Ileana Paul, Amélia Reis Silva and Tyler Peterson 2010. Perfective Aspect and Actuality Entailments: A Cross-Linguistic Approach. The Proceedings of SULA 5: The Semantics of Under-Represented Languages in the Americas. Amherst, MA: GLSA.

Koch, Karsten and Lisa Matthewson 2009. The Lexical Category Debate in Salish and its Relevance for Tagalog. Theoretical Linguistics 35:125-147.

Davis, Henry and Lisa Matthewson 2009. Issues in Salish Syntax and Semantics. Language and Linguistics Compass 3/4: 1097-1166.

Matthewson, Lisa 2009. An Unfamiliar Proportional Quantifier. In Quantification, Definiteness, and Nominalization ed. Anastasia Giannakidou and Monika Rathert. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 23-52.

Davis, Henry, Lisa Matthewson and Hotze Rullmann 2009. A Unified Modal Semantics for Out-of-control in St’at’imcets. Cross-Linguistics Semantics of Tense, Aspect and Modality, ed. Lotte Hogeweg, Helen de Hoop and Andrey Malchukov. Oxford: John Benjamins.

Matthewson, Lisa 2008. Pronouns, Presuppositions, and Semantic Variation Proceedings of SALT XVIII, 527-550.

von Fintel, Kai and Lisa Matthewson 2008. Universals in Semantics. The Linguistic Review 25(1-2):139-201.

Rullmann, Hotze, Lisa Matthewson and Henry Davis 2008. Modals as Distributive Indefinites. Natural Language Semantics 16:317-357.

Matthewson, Lisa, Hotze Rullmann and Henry Davis 2007. Evidentials as Epistemic Modals: Evidence from St’at’imcets. The Linguistic Variation Yearbook 7.

Jóhannsdóttir, Kristín and Lisa Matthewson 2007. Zero-marked Tense: The Case of Gitxsan. Proceedings of NELS 37.

Reis Silva, Amélia and Lisa Matthewson 2007. An Instantaneous Present Tense in Blackfoot. Semantics of Under-Represented Languages in the Americas 4. Amherst, MA: GLSA.

Matthewson, Lisa 2006. Temporal Semantics in a Supposedly Tenseless Language. Linguistics and Philosophy 29:673-713.

Matthewson, Lisa 2006. Presuppositions and Cross-linguistic Variation. Proceedings of NELS 26.

Matthewson, Lisa 2005. When I Was Small – I Wan Kwikws: A Grammatical Analysis of St’át’imcets Oral Narratives. Vancouver: UBC Press.

Bar-el, Leora, Henry Davis and Lisa Matthewson 2005. On Non-Culminating Accomplishments. Proceedings of the North Eastern Linguistics Society 35. Amherst, MA: GLSA.

Matthewson, Lisa 2005. On the Absence of Tense on Determiners. Lingua 115(12):1697-1735.

Schaeffer, Jeannette and Lisa Matthewson 2005. Grammar and Pragmatics in the Acquisition of Article Systems. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 23:53-101.

Gerdts, Donna and Lisa Matthewson (eds.) 2004. Studies in Salish Linguistics in Honor of M. Dale Kinkade. Missoula, Montana: University of Montana Press.

Matthewson, Lisa 2004. On the Methodology of Semantic Fieldwork. International Journal of American Linguistics 70:369-415.

Davis, Henry, Lisa Matthewson and Scott Shank 2004. Clefts vs. Nominal Predicates in Two Salish Languages. Studies in Salish Linguistics in Honor of M. Dale Kinkade, ed. Donna Gerdts and Lisa Matthewson, University of Montana Press.

Matthewson, Lisa 2004. On the Absence of Telic Accomplishments in St’át’imcets. Proceedings of WSCLA 10, UBC Working Papers in Linguistics.

Matthewson, Lisa 2003. How Natural is the Meta-Language? Comments on Durst’s Paper. Theoretical Linguistics 29:263-274.

Matthewson, Lisa 2003. Quasi Objects in St’át’imcets: The (Semi)-Independence of Agreement and Case. Formal Approaches to Function: Papers in Honor of Eloise Jelinek, ed. Andrew Carnie, Heidi Harley and Mary Ann Willie. Oxford: Blackwell. 34 pages. (co-authored with Henry Davis).

Matthewson, Lisa 2002. A Cross-Linguistic Perspective on the Expression of Manner. Proceedings of SALT XI, ed. Rachel Hastings, Brendan Jackson and Zsofia Zvolenszky, Ithaca, NY: CLC Publications. 19 pages.

Matthewson, Lisa 2001. Quantification and the Nature of Cross-Linguistic Variation. Natural Language Semantics 9:145-189.

Matthewson, Lisa 2000. On Distributivity and Pluractionality. Proceedings of SALT X, ed. Brendan Jackson and Tanya Matthews, Ithaca, NY: CLC Publications. 17 pages.

Davis, Henry and Lisa Matthewson 1999. On the Functional Determination of Lexical Categories. Révue Québecoise de Linguistique 27:2.

Matthewson, Lisa 1999. On the Interpretation of Wide-Scope Indefinites. Natural Language Semantics 7:79-134.

Matthewson, Lisa 1998. Determiner Systems and Quantificational Strategies: Evidence from Salish. The Hague: Holland Academic Graphics.

Davis, Henry and Lisa Matthewson 1998. Definiteness, Finiteness, and the Entity/Event Distinction. Proceedings of the North East Linguistic Society 28, 95-109.

Matthewson, Lisa 1997. Parametric Variation in Determiner Systems: Salish vs. English. In Amaya Mendiko-Etxea and Myriam Uribe-Etxebarria (eds.), Theoretical Issues in the Morphology-Syntax Interface. 255-284.

Matthewson, Lisa 1997. The Semantics of Salish Determiners: A Parametric Account. Proceedings of the West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics 15, ed. Bruce Agbayani and Sze-Wing Tang, Stanford Linguistics Association, 353-368.

Davis, Henry, Sandra Lai and Lisa Matthewson 1997. Cedar Roots and Singing Detectives: Attributive Modification in Salish and English. Papers for the 32nd International Conference on Salish and Neighboring Languages.

Demirdache, Hamida and Lisa Matthewson 1996. On the Universality of Syntactic Categories. Proceedings of the North East Linguistic Society 25, 79-93.