Mary Byram Washburn

Assistant Professor (Teaching) of Linguistics
Mary Byram Washburn
Email Office UUC 217

Research & Practice Areas

Information Structure,
Experimental Design,
Communication Disorders


  • Ph.D. , University of Southern California, 2013
  • M.A. , University of Southern California, 2009
  • B.A. , Univ Arizona, 5/2007
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    I am very interested in the formal representation of Information Structure, particularly of focus. My past work has concentrated on the meaning of focus and the possibility of multiple types of focus. A significant part of this work has been demonstrating the non-exhaustivity of it-clefts (ex: It was John who arrived late.) as part of demonstrating that this focus could be of the same type as found associating with particles such as “also.”

    More generally, I research cognition and language: the neural processes that allow us to derive meaning from strings of sounds. I’m particularly interested in determining what portions of deriving meaning require specialized, language-specific knowledge (i.e. semantics) and which are a product of our experience with various contexts (i.e. pragmatics). Towards this end, experimental design is very important to me.