Educational Background:

Phd, MA University of Vienna

Dissertation: ID’s in Syntax and Discourse. An analysis of Extraposition in German. (Supervisors: Edwin Williams, Wolfgang U. Dressler)


In my graduate education at the University of Vienna, I was trained in theoretical linguistics with an emphasis on syntactic theory as well as interface-issues (syntax-morphology, syntax-semantics, and syntax-pragmatics). At this time my primary language focus was on Germanic. After completing my graduate work I came to the University of British Columbia in 1996 as a postdoctoral researcher and later as a faculty member. Here I expanded my language specialization to include Upriver Halkomelem (Salish) and Blackfoot (Algonquian). This meant breaking into research areas that were completely new to me: I had never done linguistic fieldwork and I had never worked on a non-Indo-European language. These areas, and more recently also the study of Ktunaxa, are the ones that still define my research and teaching agenda. With this background, I have recently started to work on German again. But now I focus exclusively on my own dialect (Upper Austrian). With this work I am actively contributing to one of our department’s core strength: the integration of linguistic fieldwork and theoretical linguistics.

Personal background

When I’m not thinking about linguistics, I enjoy the company of my family (my husband Strang Burton, a linguist and blogger, my son Konrad, a teenager with a gourmet palate, and my dog Yoshi, a labradoodle with a “ball-problem”). Except for Yoshi, we are all dedicated martial artists. I received my third degree black belt (rank of “Senpai”) in March 2014.

Courses Currently Teaching

For a complete list of papers Here is my full CV

Just appeared:

Wiltschko, M. 2014.  The universal structure of categories. Towards a formal typology. Cambridge University Press.


Wiltschko, M. The functional structure of the clause: universals and variation. (draft, to appear in a Handbook of Parametric Variation)

Wiltschko, M. Fake form. (draft, to appear in an edited volume on pronouns)

Wiltschko, M. The essence of a category. Lessons from the subjunctive (draft, to appear in edited volume on categorization)

Wiltschko, M. Patterns of nominalization in Blackfoot in Paul, I. (ed.) Cross-linguistic investigations of nominalization patterns. John Benjamins.

Déchaine, R.-M., & M. Wiltschko. The Heterogeneity of Reflexives (Studia Linguistica)

M.Wiltschko, V.Marshall, A.Matheson, A. Vincent Independent Pronouns in Blackfoot. to appear in the Proceedings of the Algonquian Conference.

Déchaine, R.-M., R. Girard, C. Mudzingwa, and M. Wiltschko. The Internal Syntax of Shona Class Prefixes (to appear in Language sciences)

Ritter, Elizabeth & Wiltschko, M. The composition of INFL. An exploration of tense, tenseless languages, and tenseless constructions to appear in NLLT

Déchaine, Rose-Marie & Wiltschko, M. Micro-variation in Agreement, Clause-typing and Finiteness:Comparative Evidence from Blackfoot and Plains Cree To appear in the Proceedings of the 42nd Algonquian Conference.

Bliss, Heather; Elizabeth Ritter & M.Wiltschko A Comparative Analysis of Theme Marking in Blackfoot and Nishnaabemwin To appear in the Proceedings of the 42nd Algonquian Conference.

Wiltschko, M. Descriptive Relative Clauses in Austro Bavarian German to appear in Canadian Journal of Linguistics

Déchaine, Rose-Marie & Wiltschko M. When and why can 1st and 2nd person pronouns be bound variables?. ms. UBC

Wiltschko, M. 2012. The anatomy of universal categories. Developing discovery procedures. In: Keine, S. & S Sloggett (eds.) Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society, Volume 1. Held at University of Toronto. 257-276.

Christodoulou, Christiana & Wiltschko, M. 2012 Function without content: Evidence from Greek Subjunctive na. In: di Sciullio, A.-M. (ed.) Towards a Biolinguistic Understanding of Grammar : Essays on Interfaces’. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 117-140

Wiltschko, M. 2012. Decomposing the Mass/Count Distinction. Evidence from languages that lack it. In: Massam, D. (ed.) Count and Mass across languages. Oxford Studies in Theoretical Linguistics. Oxford University Press. 120-146.

Wiltschko, M. in press Discovery Procedures for functional categories A case study of Salish articles Proceedings of WSCLA 2008.

Wiltschko, M. in press. How do languages classify their nouns? Cross-linguistic variation in the manifestation of the mass/count distinction to appear in Proceedings of WSCLA 2009

Wiltschko, M. (2009) ‘What’s in a determiner and how did it get there?’ In: J.Ghomeshi, I. Paul, M. Wiltschko (eds). Determiners: universals and variation. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 25-66.

Ritter, E. & Wiltschko, M. (2009) ‘Varieties of INFL: TENSE, LOCATION, and PERSON.’ In: H. Broekhuis., J. Craenenbroeck, H. van Riemsdijk (eds.) Alternatives to Cartography. Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter

Wiltschko, M. 2009. ‘√Root incorporation. Evidence from Halkomelem lexical suffixes’ Lingua, 119, 199-223 published online December 21, 2007

Wiltschko, M. (2008) ‘The syntax of non-inflectional plural marking’ Natural Language and Linguistic Theory. 26.3. 639-694

Wiltschko, M. (2008) ‘Person hierarchy effects without a person hierarchy.’In: G. Hrafn Hrafnbjargarson, R. d’Allessandro, & S. Fischer (eds.) Agreement restrictions. Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter: 281-314.

O. Steriopolo & M.Wiltschko. 2007. ‘Parameters of variation in the syntax of diminutives’In: Milica Radisic (ed.) Proceedings of the 2007 Canadian Linguistics Association Annual Conference

Elouazizi, N. & M. Wiltschko. 2006. ‘The categorial status of (anti-) (anti-) agreement’ In: D. Baumer, D. Montero, and M. Scanlon (eds.) Proceedings of the 25th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (WCCFL 2006), Cascadilla Proceedings Project, Somerville, MA: 150-158.

Wiltschko, M. 2006. ‘Why should diminutives count?’In: Broekhuis, H., N. Corver, R. Huijbregts, U. Kleinhenz & J. Koster (eds.) Organizing Grammar. Linguistic Studies in Honor of Henk van Riemsdijk. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter: 669-679. [by invitation].

Wiltschko, M. 2006. ‘C-selection is unique’ In: D.Baumer, D.Montero, and M.Scanlon (eds.) Proceedings of the 25th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (WCCFL 2006) Cascadilla Proceedings Project, Somerville, MA: 444-452.

Wiltschko, M. 2006 ‘On Ergative Areement and Anti-Agreement in Halkomelem Salish.’ In: S. Bischoff, L. Butler, P. Norquest, & D. Siddiqi (eds.) Studies in Salishan. Massachussetts Institute of Technology Working Papers on Endangered and Less Familiar Languages 7: 241-273.

Wiltschko, M. 2005. ‘The syntax of precategorial roots’ In: Armoskaite, S. & J. Thompson (eds.) Proceedings of the Tenth Workshop on the Structure and Constituency of the Americas (WSCLA 10). University of British Columbia Working Papers in Linguistics, Volume 17: 245-258.

My current research focuses on the sources and limits of language variation in the realm of grammatical categories. Over the past 15 years I have investigated a variety of catgories, including: pronouns, agreement, tense, number, and negation among others. The core question which drives my research is as follows. Under the assumption that there is a genetic predisposition for our language faculty, the comparison of languages which on the surface appear to differ quite radically becomes an important window into the nature of the human language faculty. Though this type of research brings along a methodological difficulty which my research has revealed: on the one hand some categories which appear to be notionally similar across different languages (such as pronouns, plural marking or negation) turn out to differ significantly in their formal and/or functional properties; conversely some categories which appear to be notionally quite different (such as for example tense and location marking) turn out to be formally and functionally equivalent. Given these findings, it becomes essential to develop discovery procedures for determining the formal and functional identity of a given category in any given language in a way which is not determined by notions developed on the basis of the better studied Indo-European languages. I am currently developing such discovery procedures and apply them to the languages I conduct field-work on. The results of this research are reported in my recent book “The universal structure of categories. Towards a formal typology” published through Cambridge University Press.