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(Se)Mantis Lab

The (Se)Mantis Lab is dedicated to the study of meaning from a variety of perspectives using diverse methodologies (e.g., formal, typological, experimental). We focus on crosslinguistic research in semantics and its interface with other areas like pragmatics, syntax, and morphology. We meet biweekly to work collaboratively on research projects, present work in progress, prepare for conference presentations, etc. We welcome faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduate students.


Dr. Pilar Chamorro, Director

Pilar Chamorro's research focuses on the semantic and pragmatic contribution of temporal, aspectual, and modal expressions across languages. She is also interested in the semantics of plurals, the mass/count distinction, and quantification. She is also involved in the documentation and preservation of endangered languages of Brazil.

Dr. Dustin Chacón

The core question of his research is: How does the brain – an organ that is virtually the same across the species – manage to learn, use, and understand languages – which can be very different? His research is guided by insights from theoretical syntax/semantics, cognitive psychology, and neuroscience.

Dr. Dustin Chacón is the director of the FALCoN Lab.

Seaira Lett, PhD student, Coordinator

Seaira Lett has a B.A. in Spanish and linguistics from Emory University and a Master of Education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Seaira’s research interests include language documentation and indigenous languages of Latin America. Her focus is on the morphosyntax of Chuj, a Mayan language spoken primarily in Guatemala. She currently collects data with a community of speakers in the US. 

Dr. Ningxian Li

His areas of interest include left periphery structure in Chinese and Spanish, the syntax and pragmatics of predicate fronting, precedural meaning, and argument structure in Chinese. His dissertation focused on predicate fronting in Spanish and Chinese. He served as a Chinese instructor for the STARTALK program (National Security Agency and National Foreign Language Center).

Jean Costa-Silva, PhD Candidate

Jean's primary linguistic interests pertain to Second Language Acquisition, Syntax, Semantics, and Cognitive Linguistics. His work focuses on the acquisition of motion descriptions by L2 English and L2 Portuguese speakers. He is interested in how learners employ different linguistic strategies to describe movement through space.

Jean is the coordinator of the SLAC Research Group.

Britton Hare, undergraduate student

Britton Hare is a first-year linguistics, international affairs, and psychology major. His academic interests include the backward transfer of semantics in Second Language Acquisition, Austronesian historical linguistics, and political discourse analysis concerning nuclear policy and minority groups.

Current Research Projects:

  • An investigation of the position of adverbials in English and Portuguese and its effects on language acquisition;
  • Motion encoding strategies (and their acquisition) in English and Portuguese;
  • Subject and object null subject parameter in Japanese and its effects on L3 acquisition;
  • Past temporal reference in AAE.


  • Costa-Silva, J; Hare, B. "A Link between Languages: Manner and Path Elaboration by Highly Proficient L2 English Learners". South Carolina Spring Research Symposium.
  • Lett, S. "Initial Evidence Towards a Tenseless Analysis of Chuj". Linguistics Colloquium, University of Georgia.

Frequently Asked Questions:

When and where do we meet?

Fall 2024 schedule will be available soon.

How can I join?

If you're interested in joining our group, please contact Seaira Lett, at


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