Foto del docente

Francesca Masini

Associate Professor

Department of Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Academic discipline: L-LIN/01 Historical and General Linguistics

Delegate for Open Science and Research Data


Keywords: Theoretical linguistics Lexicon Semantics Morphology Typology Construction grammar Computational linguistics Science popularization

Research statement

My research revolves around the way in which lexical and grammatical meaning is "packaged" into linguistic structure, across and beyond what are traditionally called levels of analysis, both within the same language and across languages. I work within constructionist and cognitive approaches to language (Construction Grammar, Construction Morphology), and believe in the fruitful integration of linguistic theory with corpus-based, computational, and experimental methods.

Research areas

Multiword expressions and lexical typology

I've been investigating multiword expressions from a variety of perspectives (theoretical, computational, typological) since my Ph.D. dissertation, which contains a constructionist analysis of phrasal lexemes in Italian. I carried out research on Italian phrasal verbs (see my online bibliography), on irreversible binomials and on Russian phrasal nouns. I worked on the distinction between phrasal lexemes and compounds from a cross-linguistic perspective, and on competition between phrasal lexemes and words. Within the CombiNet Project I explored computational methods for the extraction of multiword expressions from corpora. I am currently working on naming strategies from a linguistic typology perspective.

"Light" word classes

I carried out research on binominal syntagms of the [N di N] in Italian, in particular those conveying approximation (sorta di N 'sort of N' / specie di N 'kind of N') and aspectual values (so-called "support noun" constructions, e.g.: colpo di N 'hit of N', botta di N 'blow of N'). I am interested in grammaticalization (or constructionalization) phenomena where a full-fledged lexical word becomes "lighter" in that it gradually loses its original semantics and takes on a more grammatical meaning. At present, I am investigating the construction prendere e V 'take and V' in Italian.

Grammatical semantics and constructions

Within the TopoGram Project I worked on the hypothesis that grammatical meaning can be conveyed by syntactic and discourse-level constructions. Within this line of research, I carried out a constructionist analysis of the Italian polyfunctional adverb magari and on various types of list constructions (especially those expressing intentional vagueness), that are currently one of my main research topics.

Lexical semantics, lexicon-syntax interface and subjectivity/affect

I am interested in the lexicon/semantics-syntax interface, with special reference to verb classes and argument realization in Italian (see my online bibliography on this topic). I worked on cognate object constructions in Italian, hitting verbs, as well as emphatic constructions with an extra-argumental dative clitic (e.g. ethical dative, mirative dative).


Current research project

  • Unlocking evaluative morphology: conceptual and methodological challenges [link]:SLE Research Grant – Joint Initiative 2022. Co-PI with Muriel Norde (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) and Kristel Van Goethem (Université catholique de Louvain).
  • ApproxiMo – Approximation in Morphology [link]: research network on the expression of approximation by morphological means. In collaboration with Muriel Norde (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) and Kristel Van Goethem (Université catholique de Louvain). A Special Issue has been submitted to the Journal of Word Formation.
  • RadioCast-it – Corpus di italiano della radio e dei podcast [link]: the project aims at creating a corpus of spoken Italian from radio and podcasts (approx. 100h).
  • LIST – LISTing in natural language [link]: research network based at the LILEC Department, University of Bologna, coordinated by Francesca Masini and Caterina Mauri.