Laura Kertz Assistant Professor of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences

I conduct research in linguistics, with a focus on argument structure, information structure, and discourse. I also do experimental work testing the hypotheses generated by my linguistic research. I work primarily on English, as spoken by typical adults, but am also a collaborator on a project documenting Moro, a language spoken in Sudan. I joined Brown in 2010 after leaving the University of California, San Diego, where I receieved a PhD in Linguistics and was a pre-doctoral training fellow at the Center for Research in Language. 

Research Areas

scholarly work

  • Byron C. Wallace, Do Kook Choe, Laura Kertz, and Eugene Charniak. (2014) Humans Require Context to Infer Ironic Intent (so Computers Probably do, too). To appear on the Proceedings of the 52nd Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics. 

  • Farrell Ackerman, George Gibbard, Peter Jenks, Laura Kertz, Hannah Rohde, and Sharon Rose. (2014) In-situ and ex-situ wh-question constructions in Moro. Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 5(1)91–125. [DOI: 10.1515/jall-2014-0003]

  • Laura Kertz. (2013) Verb phrase ellipsis: The view from information structure. Language 89(3):390-428. [10.1353/lan.2013.0051]

  • Laura Kertz. (2010) The argument structure of evaluative adjectives: A case of pseudo-raising. In Maria Polinsky and Norbert Hornstein (eds.) Movement Theory of Control.

  • Laura Kertz. (2008) Focus structure and acceptability in verb phrase ellipsis. In the Proceedings of the 27th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, eds. Natasha Abner and Jason Bishop, 283-291. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.

  • Andrew Kehler, Laura Kertz, Hannah Rohde, and Jeff Elman. (2008) Coherence and coreference revisited. Journal of Semantics Special Issue on Processing Meaning, JoS 25(1):1-44.

research overview

My research program pursues a linguistic analysis of discourse structure, asking  how speakers and hearers build up representations of complex events or situations using language as the building blocks. In particular, I am interested in the  challenges  posed by under-specification, that is, when speakers take short-cuts  in producing their utterances, with the expectation that hearers will accommodate.  



funded research

Alexander Warstadt and Laura Kertz. (summer 2014) Grammatical and Discourse Constraints on Coordinate Structures. New Frontiers UTRA Research Collaboration. Karen T. Romer Undergraduate Teaching and Research program, Brown University. ($3,500 stipend to student)

Byron Wallace (PI), Eugene Charniak, Laura Kertz (co-investigator, 10% effort), and Thomas Trikalinos. (2013-2016) Sociolinguistically Informed Natural Language Processing: Automating Irony Detection. Army Research Office. ($298,446)

Laura Kertz. (2011-2013) An Expectation-Based Model of Discourse Processing.  Richard B. Salomon Faculty Research Awards fund, Brown University. ($8,775)

Jenna Zeigen and Laura Kertz. (summer 2011) It’s Not Funny!: Lexical Ambiguity Resolution’s Insight into Humor. New Frontiers UTRA Research Collaboration. Karen T. Romer Undergraduate Teaching and Research program, Brown University. ($3,000 stipend to student)