Dr. Martha McGinnis

Dr. Martha McGinnis
Associate Professor, Chair
Office: Clearihue D345a
Area of expertise

Syntax, morphology

Martha McGinnis received her BA in Linguistics and English and her MA in Linguistics from the University of Toronto, and her PhD in Linguistics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She also held a SSHRC postdoc at the Linguistics Department and the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science at the University of Pennsylvania. She worked at the University of Calgary for eleven years before coming to the University of Victoria in 2010. She was the Secretary of the Canadian Linguistic Association from 2001-2008, and has been an Associate Editor of the journal Linguistic Inquiry since 2006. She has held a SSHRC Standard Research Grant on the syntax of movement and binding.

Her research is primarily in syntax, particularly in the syntax of argument structure, and the interaction between binding and syntactic movement. She has explored locality conditions on A-movement; the syntax of applicatives, causatives, and nominalizations; the morphosyntactic representation of person and number; and the interpretation of idioms. Her theoretical expertise is in Minimalist syntactic theory and the theory of Distributed Morphology. She is also interested in neurolinguistics, language acquisition, psycholinguistics, language and mind, and constructed languages. She has investigated many languages, including Albanian, Chicheŵa, English, French, German, Georgian, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Kinyarwanda, Korean, Navajo, Ojibwe, Persian, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Yoruba — and has supervised student research on Mandarin, SENĆOŦEN, Turkish, Ukrainian and Belorusian.

Selected Works

Refereed journal articles and book chapters

McGinnis, Martha. 2022. Configurationally defined Voice and v: evidence from Georgian causatives. Building on Babel’s Rubble, ed. Isabelle Roy, Nora Boneh, Daniel Harbour, and Ora Matushansky, 317­–334. Presses Universitaires de Vincennes.

McGinnis, Martha. 2022. Reflexive clitics are verbal, not pronominal. Canadian Journal of Linguistics, Special Issue: Pronouns, 67:3, 328–352.

McGinnis, Martha. 2020. Cross-linguistic contrasts in the structure of causatives in clausal nominalizations. Contrast and Representations in Syntax, eds. Bronwyn Bjorkman and Daniel Currie Hall, 138–178. Oxford University Press.

McGinnis, Martha. 2017. Applicatives. The Blackwell Companion to Syntax, 2nd edition, ed. Martin Everaert and Henk Van Riemsdijk, 322–353. Wiley-Blackwell.

McGinnis, Martha. 2016. Distributed Morphology. Cambridge Handbook of Morphology, ed. Andrew Hippisley and Gregory Stump, 390-423. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

McGinnis, Martha. 2013. Agree and fission in Georgian plurals. In Distributed Morphology today: Morphemes for Morris Halle, ed. Ora Matushansky and Alec Marantz. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 39–58.

McGinnis, Martha. 2011. Person. Cambridge Encyclopedia of the Language Sciences, ed. Patrick Colm Hogan. 1000-word entry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

McGinnis, Martha. 2008. Applicatives. Language and Linguistic Compass 2:6, 1225–1245. DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-818x.2008.00078.x

McGinnis, Martha. 2008. Phi-feature competition in morphology and syntax. In Phi-Theory: Phi-Features across Modules and Interfaces, ed. Daniel Harbour, David Adger and Susana Béjar. Oxford Studies in Theoretical Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 155–184.

McGinnis, Martha. 2005. On markedness asymmetries in person and number. Language 81:3, 699–718.

McGinnis, Martha. 2004. Lethal ambiguity. Linguistic Inquiry 35.1, 47–95.

McGinnis, Martha. 2002. On the systematic aspect of idioms. Linguistic Inquiry 33.4, 665–672.

McGinnis, Martha. 2001. Variation in the phase structure of applicatives. Linguistic Variation Yearbook 1, 105–146.

Phillips, Colin, Alec Marantz, Elron Yellin, Tom Pellathy, Martha McGinnis, Ken Wexler, David Poeppel, Tim Roberts. 2000. Auditory cortex accesses phonological categories: An MEG mismatch study. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 12: 1038–1055.

Edited volume

McGinnis, Martha and Leslie Saxon, eds. 2013. Canadian Journal of Linguistics Special Issue: The syntax of relative clauses, 58:2. 

Conference proceedings

McGinnis, Martha, and Christiana Moser. 2020. Cross-linguistic evidence for underspecification in reflexive morphosyntax. In Proceedings of the 2020 annual conference of the Canadian Linguistic Association, ed. Angelica Hernández et M. Emma Butterworth. 12 pp. https://cla-acl.artsci.utoronto.ca/actes-2020-proceedings/

McGinnis, Martha. 2013. Irreversible Binding. Proceedings of the 40th Annual Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society, Vol. 2, ed. Seda Kan, Claire Moore-Cantwell, and Robert Staubs. Graduate Linguistic Student Association, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 81–92.

Conference presentations

McGinnis, Martha. 2023. Unergative subjects merge below VoiceP. Paper presented at the South Caucasian Chalk Circle 3. Ilia State University, Tbilisi, October 2–5.

McGinnis, Martha. 2023. Unergative subjects merge below VoiceP. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Linguistics Association. York University, Toronto, May 31–June 3.

McGinnis, Martha and Christiana Moser. 2020. Cross-linguistic evidence for underspecification in reflexive morphosyntax. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Linguistics Association. Online (http://cla-acl.ca/), May 30–June 1.

McGinnis, Martha. 2019. The Voice/v distinction is configurational: Evidence from Georgian causatives. Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Linguistic Association University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, June 1–3.

McGinnis, Martha. 2018. Causees outside causative vP: Evidence from Georgian. Poster presented at the South Caucasian Chalk Circle 2, Ilia University, Tbilisi, September 12–14.

McGinnis, Martha. 2017. Applicatives and the Person-Case Constraint. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Linguistics Association, Ryerson University, Toronto, May 27–29.

McGinnis, Martha. 2016. A vP layer in result and complex event nominals. Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Linguistic Association, May 28–29, University of Calgary, AB.

Invited presentations

McGinnis, Martha. 2019. Reflexive morphology is syntactically heterogeneous. Paper presented at The YYC Pronouns Workshop. University of Calgary, November 15–16.

McGinnis, Martha. 2017. The morphosyntax of the Person Case Constraint. Paper presented at The Manitoba Workshop on Person. University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, September 22–23.

McGinnis, Martha. 2016. The morphosyntax of thematic suffixes in Georgian. Paper presented at The South Caucasian Chalk Circle. University of Chicago Centre, Paris, September 22–24.

McGinnis-Archibald, Martha. 2015. Cross-linguistic contrasts in the syntax of nominalizations: evidence for the argument structure of causatives. Paper presented at the Contrast in Syntax Workshop, University of Toronto, April 24–25.

McGinnis, Martha. 2014. The morphosyntax of Georgian nominalizations. Paper presented at Dog Days Workshop III, University of Toronto, August 7.

McGinnis, Martha. 2013. Binding Preservation: Interactions with scrambling. University of Washington Department of Linguistics Colloquium, May 23.

McGinnis, Martha. 2013. Whither the grammatical word? Workshop on the Grammatical Word, University of California, Davis, May 10-11.

McGinnis, Martha. 2013. The singular nature of Georgian plural agreement. Paper presented at the Forum on Distributed Morphology, 87th Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America, Boston, MA, January 4.


Alexander, Ian, and Martha McGinnis. 2022. Excerpts from a conversation with Noam Chomsky. Bulletin for the Study of Religion 51(2), 43–50. DOI: 10.1558/bsor.25443

Alexander, Ian, and Martha McGinnis. 2022. Values for a new world: an interview with Noam Chomsky. Part One (1:17:04, https://youtu.be/D1AZa5z85YY); Part Two (1:12:01, https://youtu.be/tDP71Q2-T3s). January 27.

Everett, Daniel, David Pesetsky and Martha McGinnis (guests), and Russell Smith (host). 2007. Universal Grammar. And Sometimes Y, Season 2, Episode 25. CBC Radio 1, broadcast June 23 and 25.

Kisa, Sonja Elen, Christian Bök and Martha McGinnis (guests), and Jane Farrow (host). 2007. Invented languages. And Sometimes Y, Season 3, Episode 7. CBC Radio 1, broadcast October 20 and 22.