Jump to a project, or view my CV for a full list of publications and full bibliographic entries:

Syntax-prosody correspondence

Much of my research deals with the interface between syntax and phonology. In particular, I am interested in how syntactic constituents and prosodic constituents correspond and whether there is a universal mapping algorithm between syntax and phonology. Within a Match Theory framework (Selkirk 2011), I argue that MatchWord must be revised to refer to phases in order to account for the prosodic phonology of Blackfoot.

  • Weber, Natalie. Constituency in Blackfoot. forthcoming. In Constituency and convergence in the Americas, Adam J. R. Tallman, Sandra Auderset, and Hiroto Uchihara (eds.). Accepted with revisions. Language Science Press.
  • Weber, Natalie. 2022. Prosodic word recursion in a polysynthetic language (Blackfoot; Algonquian). Languages. Phonology-syntax interface and recursivity 7(3). DOI 10. 3390/languages7030159.
  • Weber, Natalie. 2021. Phase-based constraints within Match Theory. In Supplemental Proceedings of the 2020 Annual Meeting on Phonology, Ryan Bennett et al. (eds.). Washington, D.C.: Linguistic Society of America. [proceedings] [poster] [captioned video]

A subset of this work studies the typology of prosodic structure within the Algonquian family.

  • Weber, Natalie. in press. Phonological domains in Blackfoot: structures shared with Algonquian and the misbehavior of preverbs. In Papers of the 52nd Algonquian Conference. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press. [lingbuzz]

Prosodic phonology

Blackfoot has default third syllable stress assignment, which is a typologically rare pattern. I argue in several papers that the Blackfoot pattern can only be captured with a form of underparsing at the left edge. The analysis I propose introduces a version of a NonInitiality constraint. Stress in Blackfoot is manifested primarily via a high f0 and so a subset of my work also examines pitch accents and contours.

  • Weber, Natalie. 2016. Accent and prosody in Blackfoot verbs. In Papers of the Forty-fourth Algonquian Conference, Monica Macaulay, Margaret Noodin, and J. Randolph Valentine (eds.), 348–369. SUNY Press.
  • Weber, Natalie. 2016. Initial extrametricality and cyclicity in Blackfoot accent. In Proceedings of the Qualifying Papers Mini-conferences 2013–2014, Andrei Anghelescu, Joel Dunham, and Natalie Weber (eds.), 234-248. UBCWPL 42). [link]

A subset of this work focuses on pitch accents and pitch contours.

  • Weber, Natalie and Jason Shaw. 2022. Situating Blackfoot within a typology of (mobile) boundary tone grammars. In Proceedings of the 2021 Annual Meeting on Phonology, Peter Jurgec et al. (eds.). Washington, DC: Linguistic Society of America. [link]
  • Miyashita, Mizuki and Natalie Weber. 2020. Blackfoot pitch contour: an instrumental investigation. In Papers of the 49th Algonquian Conference, Monica Macaulay and Margaret Noodin (eds.). East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press.

Syntax and semantics

The vP/VP stem in Blackfoot is morphologically complex. Some of my work focuses on a morphological analysis of the vP stem and categorizing the elements in terms of their syntactic distribution and semantics. One project with Rose-Marie Déchaine focused on the syntax of roots and the differences between Blackfoot and Plains Cree (both part of the Algonquian family).

  • Déchaine, Rose-Marie and Natalie Weber. 2018. Root syntax: Evidence from Algonquian. In Papers of the Forty-seventh Algonquian Conference, Monica Macaulay (ed.). Michigan State University Press.
  • Déchaine, Rose-Marie and Natalie Weber. 2015. Head-Merge, Adjunct-Merge, and the Syntax of Root Categorisation. In Proceedings of the Poster Session of the 33rd West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, Pocholo Umbal and Kyeong-min Kim (eds.), 38–47. (SFUWPL 5). [link]

A project with Lisa Matthewson explores how the vP/VP stem morphology reflects the semantic type of the verbal complement.

  • Weber, Natalie and Lisa Matthewson. 2017. The semantics of Blackfoot arguments. In Papers of the Forty-fifth Algonquian Conference. (University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Oct. 18–20, 2013), Monica Macaulay (ed.). MSU Press.
  • Weber, Natalie and Lisa Matthewson. 2014. Reflections of complement type: The view from Blackfoot. In The Art and Craft of Semantics: A Festschrift for Irene Heim, vol. 2, Luka Crnič and Uli Sauerland (eds.), 275–298. (MITWPL 71). [link]

Language documentation

Under-documented languages like Blackfoot contain unique challenges for linguistic research, because clear generalizations about the data may not be possible without significant effort to collect, organize, and process primary data. Because of this, some of my research outcomes include research resources and language description. The most significant of these is Blackfoot Words, a free, open-source lexical database of Blackfoot. Inflected words in the database are systematically analyzed into stems and their constituent morphemes, and lemmas link instances of the “same” stem or morpheme tokens across a variety of orthographies, dialects, and time periods. Version 1.1 (2022-07-11) currently contains 4,553 inflected word tokens across 9 sources, analyzed into 4966 stem tokens and 695 morpheme tokens, representing 2,457 abstract, phonemicized stem and morpheme lemmas. All items are annotated with lexical category and other metadata.

  • Weber, Natalie, Tyler Brown, Joshua Celli, McKenzie Denham, Hailey Dykstra, Nico Kidd, Rodrigo Hernandez-Merlin, Evan Hochstein, Pinyu Hwang, Diana Kulmizev, Hannah Morrison, Matty Norris, and Lena Venkatraman. 2023. A lexical database of Blackfoot legacy sources. Language Resources and Evaluation. [link]
  • Weber, Natalie. 2021. Blackfoot Words. Version 1.1. A database of lexical forms from legacy language documentation materials.

I feel it is important to produce useful language description and documentation even within theoretical linguistics papers. To that end, part of my research program deals specifically with language documentation.

  • Sanker, Chelsea, Sarah Babinski, Roslyn Burns, Marisha Evans, Jeremy Johns, Juhyae Kim, Slater Smith, Natalie Weber, and Claire Bowern. 2021. (Don’t) try this at home! The effects of recording devices and software on phonetic analysis. Language 97(4): e360–e384. (Research Report). [link]

Here are some empirical contributions to language documentation:

  • Derrick, Donald and Natalie Weber. forthcoming. Blackfoot. Resubmitted in Feb. 2022 to the Illustrations of the IPA series of the Journal of the International Phonetic Association.
  • Weber, Natalie. 2016. Blackfoot dictionary. Contributor, database organization and parts of speech categorization.
  • Weber, Natalie. 2016. Blackfoot stories. Contributor.


My dissertation, “Syntax, prosody, and metrical structure in Blackfoot” (April 2020, University of British Columbia) focuses on structural correspondences at the interface. I show that the Blackfoot verbal complex has two distinct phonological domains, corresponding to a syntactic vP/VP and CP, respectively. There are two main contributions. First, I hypothesize that each syntactic phase corresponds to a particular prosodic constituent by default. I model these relationships using a modified version of Match Theory (Selkirk 2011), in which the vP/VP phase corresponds to a PWd and the CP phase corresponds to a PPh. Second, I argue that the syntax-prosody correspondence is distinct from the alignment of prosodic and metrical structure. In a parallel constraint-based model of phonology, there are separate constraints regulating each type of correspondence, which predicts that a language might satisfy isomorphic syntax-prosody correspondence at the expense of prosodic and metrical alignment, or vice versa.

Research groups

(Last updated: 31 Mar 2023)