Foto del docente

Francesca Masini

Associate Professor

Department of Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

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


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. Recently, 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

2017-2020 – universaLISTCostruzioni a lista in prospettiva tipologico-cognitiva. Project funded by the LILEC Department, University of Bologna, directed by Francesca Masini.

2016-present – LIST - LISTing in natural language. Network based at the LILEC Department, University of Bologna, coordinated by Francesca Masini and Caterina Mauri.

2015-2019 – LEAdhoC – The linguistic expression of ad hoc categories. SIR Project directed by Caterina Mauri.

2014-2017 – PARSEME Parsing and multi-word expressions. Towards linguistic precision and computational efficiency in natural language processing. COST Action coordinated by Agata Savary.