Isabelle ROY


Isabelle ROY

University of Nantes

Fellowship : October to December 2019

Discipline(s) : Linguistics

Pays : France

Research project: "Predication and ontology of natural languages"

The project is about predication, one of the most fundamental operations in the logic and grammar of natural languages. More specifically, the project will focus on nonverbal predication, as expressed by adjectival and nominal predicates, and used to assign properties to entities. Nonverbal predication is realized in many languages, including English, by copular sentences of the form A is P. Such sentences have been, and continue to be, the subject of much debate and controversy concerning (a) their typological diversity, (b) the possible definition of a unique source for predication at the logical and grammatical levels, (c) the existence or not of an ontological distinction between property and predicate, and (d) the nature and role of the copula. These questions have commonly been addressed on the basis of the meaning and the form of these sentences. This project aims to shed a new light on these issues by considering their relationship to the question of ontology. The goal is to address the possibility of a grammatical ontology distinct from other ontologies traditionally accepted by philosophers or by theories of cognition and based on our common mental concepts of reality.


Isabelle Roy is a formal linguist who works in syntax and at the syntax-semantics interface. She studied Linguistics at the University of Paris VIII – Saint Denis, before receiving a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Southern California (USC) in 2006. Her thesis is entitled Nonverbal Predication: predicational copular sentences at the syntax-semantics interface. Isabelle Roy worked from 2006 to 2010 as a researcher at the Center for Advanced Study in Theoretical Linguistics (CASTL), University of Tromsø, Norway. Since 2010 she is an Associate Professor in Linguistics at the University of Paris VIII. From 2010 to 2015 she held a Chair of Excellence from the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. She has obtained her Habilitation (HDR) in 2016 (title: Combinatory Function of Language: Structure and Interpretation). Her primary research interests include the linguistic expression of events and states, as well as predication, the copula, nominalization, the development of early linguistic combinations in child language, the grammar-cognition interface and natural language ontology.

Isabelle Roy is the author of Nonverbal Predication, Oxford University Press. She is the editor-in-chief of the series Sciences du Langage, at Presses Universitaires de Vincennes.


ROY, Isabelle and SHLONSKY, Ur. “Aspects of the syntax of ce in French copular sentences.”
in The Grammar of Copulas Across Languages, M. Arche, A. Fàbregas and R. Marìn (eds.),
Oxford University Press, 2019.

ROY, Isabelle, COPLEY, Bridget, COLONNA, Saveria and ARUNACHALAM, Sudha.
“Grammatical and conceptual knowledge of dispositions in the interpretation of -er
nominals : Experimental evidence”, in Proceedings of the Workshop on the Morphological,
Syntactic and Semantic Aspects of Dispositions, University of Stuttgart, 2016. pp 92-106.

ROY, Isabelle and SOARE, Elena. “On the internal event properties of -er nominals", in
Lingua, 2014, 141 : pp 139-156.

ROY, Isabelle. Nonverbal Predication. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2013.

ROY, Isabelle. “Deadjectival nominalizations and the structure of adjectives”, in The
Syntax of Nominalizations across Languages and Frameworks, A. Alexiadou & M. Rather
(eds.), Gruyter Mouton, 2010, pp 129-158.