Maria Zubizarreta

Professor Emerita of Linguistics
Email Office GFS 301Q Office Phone (213) 740-3887

Research & Practice Areas

Linguistic Theory, Syntax, Prosody/Information Structure Interface, Language contact and Language acquisition


Maria Luisa Zubizarreta was born and raised in Asunción, Paraguay. She obtained her Maîtrise de Linguistique Générale from L’Université de Paris 8 in 1978, and her PhD in Linguistics from M.I.T. in 1982. From 1983-85, she was a post-doctoral researcher at the Laboratoire de Psychologie Expérimentale at L’Université Paris 5/CNRS (France). In 1985-86, she was a Visiting Professor at Tilburg University (The Netherlands). In 1987-88, she was an Assistant Professor at the Linguistics Program and the Department of Spanish & Portuguese at University of Maryland, College Park, MD. In 1988, she joined the Linguistics Department at the University of Southern California (Los Angeles) as an Associate Professor and in 1998, she was promoted to Full Professor. Her research focus is in theoretical linguistics (syntax and lexicon, syntax and prosody, syntax and semantics), as well as in second language acquisition.


  • Ph.D. Linguistics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 9/1982
    • Post-doctoral fellow, Laboratoire de Psychologie Expérimentale, Université Paris 5/CNRS, Paris, France, 09/01/1983-07/30/1985
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    Professor Zubizarreta is interested in linguistic theory as a model of human’s linguistic competence. This research program investigates the abstract principles that underlie human languages and the set of parameters that account for linguistic variations. This is achieved by in-depth comparative investigation of the grammar of different languages. Her research includes in-depth study of: (1) the lexicon-syntax interface in Romance, Germanic, and Korean (2) the interface of prosody, word order, and information structure in Romance and Germanic; she is currently extending her investigation to Turkish (3) second language prosody and grammatical knowledge, and what it teaches us about the mental representations of the languages in contact.

    Research Keywords

    Linguistic Theory, Syntax, Prosody-Information Structure Interface, Language contact and Language acquisition.

  • Book

    • Zubizarreta, M. (2012). “Information Structure and Nuclear Stress.” In “Information Structure and Nuclear Stress.” In Encyclopedia on Information Structure. (Caroline Féry and S. Ishihara. , Ed.). Oxford University Press.
    • Zubizarreta, M. (2012). “The Grammaticalization of the Assertion Structure: A view from Spanish”. In Left Sentence Peripheries in Spanish: Diachronic, Variationist, and Typological Perspectives. (Andreas Dufter & Alvaro S. Octavio de Toledo. Series “Linguistics Today”., Ed.). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins..
    • Zubizarreta, M. L. (1987). Levels of Representation in the Lexicon and in the Syntax, 1987, Dordrecht: Foris Publications.

    Book Chapter

    • Zubizarreta, M., Xiao, H., Jonkheere, N. (2012). An L2 Study on the Production of Stress Patterns in English Compounds. Generative Grammar and Acquisition Amsterdam/Philadelphia: In eds. M. Becher, J. Rothman, B. Schwartz, Generative Linguistics and Acquisition: Studies in Honor of Nina Hyams. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins..
    • Lim, D., Zubizarreta, M. (2012). Roots as Incremental Paths: a view from Korean and Spanish. Telicity and Change of State in Natural Language Oxford University Press.
    • Nava, E. A., Zubizarreta, M. L. (2009). Deconstructing the Nuclear Stress Algorithm: Evidence from L2 Speech. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    • Zubizarreta, M. L., Vergnaud, J. |. (2005). “Phrasal Stress and Syntax,” in Twenty Years of Grammatical Models, eds. E. Anagnostopoulos and M. van Oostendorp, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Netherlands. 2005.
    • Freidin, R., Zubizarreta, M. (2005). Phrasal Stress, Focus, and Syntax (in The Syntax Companion). Blackwell.

    Book Review

    • Zubizarreta, M. (2009). Information-Structure: The Syntax-Discourse Interface. By Nomi Erteschik-Shir. Language.

    Journal Article


    • Lim, D., Zubizarreta, M. (2012). “Korean derived inchoatives with verbal roots as directed motion constructions”. In S. Nam, J. Jun, and H. Ko. (Ed.), Standford. Standford: CSLI.
    • Nava, E. A., Tepperman, J., Goldstein, L., Zubizarreta, M., Narayanan, S. (2009). Connecting rhythm and Prominence in Automatic ESL Pronunciations Scoring. Brighton. Interspeech 2009. 10th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association..
    • Nava, E. A., Zubizarreta, M. L. (2009). Order of L2 Acquisition of Prosodic Prominence Patterns: Evidence from L1 Spanish/L2 English Speech. Somerville, MA. Cascadilla Press.