• Research CV

    In Progress

    • Effect-driven interpretation: Functors for natural language composition
      With Simon Charlow
      Under review with Cambridge University Press

    • Dynamic semantics with static types
      With Simon Charlow



    Selected Presentations

    • 2020. Rationalizing evaluativity. Sinn und Bedeutung 25. (with Jessica Rett). [slides] [recording]

    • 2019. Superlative scope, comparison classes, and negative polarity. Invited colloquium, USC. [slides]

    • 2018. Effectful composition in natural language semantics. NASSLLI 2018: New type-theoretic tools in natural language semantics (with Simon Charlow). [slides]

    • 2018. Binding into superlative descriptions. Semantics and Linguistic Theory 28. [slides]

    • 2017. Split-scope effects in definite descriptions. Invited colloquium, Boston University.

    • 2016. Polyadicity in descriptions. Invited talk, University of Pennsylvania.

    • 2016. Monadic dynamic semantics: Side effects and scope. Natural Language and Computer Science 4 (with Simon Charlow). [slides]

    • 2016. The rabbit in the hat is back: Definites with joint uniqueness presuppositions. Definiteness Across Languages (with Lucas Champollion and Linmin Zhang).

    • 2016. Decomposing definiteness: Effects of delayed quantification in descriptions. Semantics and Linguistic Theory 26. [poster]

    • 2016. Split-scope definites. Invited talk, Queen Mary University. [slides]

    • 2015. Temporal modification without pronouns. Invited talk, NYU Continuations and Scope Workshop. [handout]

      2015. Adjectives of comparison. Invited talk, UCSC S-Circle (with Chris Barker).

    • 2014. Incremental quantification and the dynamics of pair-list phenomena. Invited talk, Stanford Construction of Meaning Workshop. [slides]

    • 2013. Universal quantification as iterated dynamic conjunction. 19th Amsterdam Colloquium.

    • 2013. Generalized association with distributivity. Semantics and Linguistic Theory 23 (with Chris Barker). [poster]

    • 2012. It-clefts are IT (inquiry-terminating) constructions. Semantics and Linguistic Theory 22 (with Dan Velleman, David Beaver, Emilie Destruel, Edgar Onea, and Elizabeth Coppock). [poster]

    • 2011. "Yes, but..." -- Exhaustivity and at-issueness across languages. Third Workshop on Projection, Entailment, Presupposition, and Assertion (with Dan Velleman, David Beaver, Emilie Destruel, and Edgar Onea). [poster]

    • 2009. Effects of grammatical form and familiarity on metaphor comprehension. Metaphor Festival, Stockholm (with Lauretta Reeves).

  • Resources github/dylnb

    Parsers and Calculators

    • A proof-of-concept type-driven parser and interpreter. Built with Simon Charlow using Haskell and Purescript. See the code, which is really just compositional semantics, here, along with a brief description of what you can do.

    • A dynamic semantics (PLA) calculator, showing how the state changes in response to various formulas. The calculator is written in Elm, a purely functional language, so the code is the semantics. Also check out Simon Charlow's command line version, and Chris Potts's original web app.

    • I'm listed on the ever-growing credits reel of The Lambda Calculator, "an interactive, graphical application to help students of natural language semantics practice derivations in the typed lambda calculus".

    Lecture Notes

    • Slides from a 2022 ESSLLI course co-taught with Simon Charlow on functional programming techniques for natural language semantics.

    • Notes, papers, and code from a much earlier iteration of the course above led by Chris Barker.

    Reference Fragments for Semantics Papers

    Experiments, Simulations, Data

    • A Jupyter notebook computing and demonstrating the Rational Speech Act models reported in Bumford and Rett 2020, "Rationalizing evaluativity"

    • The javascript and related source material for a grammar learning experiment to be online using psiTurk. The experiment elicits production data during exposure to an artificial language, and explores the role of expectation in complex pattern learning.

    Other Projects

  • About dbumford@ucla.edu

    I am an Assistant Professor in UCLA's Department of Linguistics. My research concentrates on formal semantics and pragmatics, especially in their interfaces with theoretical computer science. My dissertation explored ways in which dynamic semantics and split-scope mechanisms can help make sense of apparently indefinite definite descriptions. Related to this, I have argued for particular views of the lexical semantics of distributive universals and superlative adjectives based on their interactions with structures for binding and anaphora. For much of this work, I have tried to incorporate techniques from functional programming and type theory into linguistic analysis, looking especially at how the algebraic structures used to model computational side effects can be leveraged to organize natural language composition. I have also worked on pragmatic models integrating rational inference over dynamic denotations. And I have participated in projects investigating semantic parsing, statistical grammar learning, and the implicatures of clefts and exclusives across languages.

  • Classes at UCLA


    • English as a programming language: Fall 2022
    • New approaches to questions: Winter 2021
    • Relative clauses and reconstruction: Spring 2019
    • Definiteness and degrees: Spring 2018


    • Semantic Theory I: Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021
    • Semantic Theory II: Winter 2018
    • Semantic Theory III (Dynamic Semantics): Spring 2020


    • Computational Linguistics I: Winter 2023
    • Semantics I: Winter 2020, Fall 2021
    • Semantics II: Winter 2018, Winter 2019
    • Mathematical Structures in Language: Fall 2018
    • Introduction to Linguistic Analysis: Fall 2017