Dr. Martha McGinnis

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

Syntax, morphology

Martha McGinnis received both her BA in Linguistics and English and her MA in Linguistics from the University of Toronto, and received 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 the interaction between binding and syntactic movement. She has also explored 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, Chichewa, English, French, German, Georgian, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Kinyarwanda, Korean, Navajo, Ojibwe, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Yoruba — and is enthusiastic to learn more about languages spoken in the Victoria area!

Selected Works

Refereed articles

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. 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.

McGinnis, Martha. 2008. A new look at Japanese and Korean scrambling. Toronto Working Papers in Linguistics 28: Proceedings of the International Conference on East Asian Linguistics, ed. Sarah Clarke, Manami Hirayama, Kyumin Kim and Eugenia Suh. Linguistics Graduate Course Union, University of Toronto, 239–258. http://twpl.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/twpl/issue/view/464

Conference presentations

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

Dworak, Catherine, and Martha McGinnis. 2012. Binding in Farsi ditransitives. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Linguistics Association, Waterloo, Ontario, May 26–28.

McGinnis, Martha. 2010. Evidence for the syntactic attachment of -able. Paper presented at the CUNY Conference on the Word. CUNY, New York, NY, January 14–15.

Invited presentations

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.

McGinnis, Martha. 2011. Argument structure and applicatives. Plenary lecture, North West Linguistics Conference 27, University of Victoria, February 19–20.


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.