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Dorit Abusch

Professor, Linguistics

Morrill Hall, Room 214



Professor Abusch's research is concerned with the semantics and pragmatics of natural language. She has worked on the semantics of tense in various clause types, including issues of sequence of tense, the representation of futurity, the semantics of infinitives, and the semantics of verbal participles. She has also written about presupposition triggering, the scope properties of indefinite noun phrases, and interactions between aspect and causation.  Currently she is working on modality, and on language and image.  The latter involves applying methods of dynamic semantics to sequential narrative images.  Areas of interest include co-indexing and temporal succession.


  • Linguistics

Graduate Fields

  • Linguistics

Current Courses



Possible worlds semantics for pictures. Handbook article.

Temporal succession and aspectual type in visual narrative. In Luka Crnič and Uli Sauerland (eds.), The Art and Craft of Semantics: A Festschrift for Irene Heim, vol. 1, MITWPL 70, 2014.

Applying discourse semantics and pragmatics to co-reference in picture sequences. In Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 17, 2012.

Circumstantial and Temporal Dependence in Counterfactual Modals.

Natural Language Semantics 20.3 (2012), 273-297, doi:10.1007/s11050-012-9082-5. (Preprint).

Presupposition Triggering from Alternatives, Journal of Semantics (2010) 27(1), 37-80. (Preprint).

Focus Presuppositions. In Acta Linguistica Hungarica, volume 55, numbers 3-4, December 2008. DOI 10. 1556/ALing55.2008.3-4.7.

Temporal and Circumstantial Dependence in Counterfactual Modals. Proceedings of the Sixteenth Amsterdam Colloquium. 37-42, 2007. ILLC, University of Amsterdam.

Causatives and Mixed Aspectual Type, in Reference and Quantification: The Partee Effect, Greg Carlson and Jeffrey Pelletier (eds.), Stanford: CSLI Publications, 2005.

On the Temporal Composition of Infinitives, in The Syntax of Time, J. Gueron and J. Lecarme (eds.), MIT Press, 2004.

Empty Domain Effects for Presuppositional and Non-presuppositional Determiners, in Context Dependence in the Analysis of Linguistic Meaning, H. Kamp and B. Partee (eds.), Elsevier Publishers. With Mats Rooth.

Lexical Alternatives as a Source of Pragmatic Presuppositions, in B. Jackson (ed.), Proceedings of SALT 12, 2002. Cornell University, CLC Publications.

Generalizing Tense Semantics for Future Contexts, in Events and Grammar, S. Rothstein (ed.). Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1998.

Sequence of Tense and Temporal De Re, in Linguistics and Philosophy, 20.1, pp. 1-50, 1997.

Epistemic NP Modifiers, in Proceedings of SALT VII, 1997. A. Lawson and A. Cho (eds.), CLC Publications, Ithaca NY.

The Scope of Indefinites, in Natural Language Semantics 2.2, 1993-1994, pp. 83-135.

Temporal Adverbs and the English Perfect, in Proceedings of the 20th North East Linguistic Society, 1990. GLSA, Amherst MA. With Mats Rooth.

Reflexives, Reference Shifters and Attitudes, in Proceedings of the 8th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, 1989. The Stanford Linguistics Association.

Recent and Upcoming Presentations

Picture descriptions and centered content. Sinn und Bedeutung 21, Edinburgh, September 2016. (abstract,slides).

Pictorial discourse referents, bridging and continuous narrative. Discourse and Philosophy Colloquium, ILLC, University of Amsterdam, October 2014.

Pictorial discourse referents, bridging and continuous narrative. Carpentry Workshop, University of Frankfurt, September 2014.

Presentation at Workshop Tense in Semantics and Philosophy of Language, University of St. Andrews, June 2014. Anaphoric relations in sequential and conflated pictures. Colloquium at Linguistics and Cognitive Science, University of Delaware, March 2014.

Temporal succession and aspectual type in visual narrative. Colloquium at Dept. of Linguistics, Yale, March 2014. Colloquium at McGill University, October 2013.

Anaphoric relations in sequential and conflated pictures. Colloquium, Trinity College Dublin, April 2013.

Anaphoric relations in sequential and conflated pictures. Colloquium, University of Edinburgh, April 2013.

Narrative Images and Natural Language. IIT Delhi, February 2013.


Visual Narrative in Wall Paintings of Rajasthan – Individuation and Temporal Relations. 2012-2013 Humanities Research Grant, Cornell Society for the Humanties.

Applying Discourse Semantics and Pragmatics to Narrative Images: A Study of Stone Reliefs, Miniatures, Cave Paintings, and Temple Sculpture. 2011-2012, Cornell Institute for Social Sciences. Empirical basis is Indian art.


Literary Publications