"There is no wealth like knowledge, no poverty like ignorance." - Nahj al-Balāghah

Welcome! I am a PhD candidate in the UCSD Linguistics Department and have recently joined the specialization track for Anthropogeny. I am a morphologist and typologist with research interests in theoretical morphology (the study of how words form). Namely paradigm organization, blocking, overabundance, and the relationship of those phenomena to things like deponency and multiple exponence. 

In the field of morphology, the competition-induced non-existence of one word due to the existence of a competing synonym is known as blocking. For example, even though most past tense verbs are formed with the suffix in -ed in English, the past tense of sing is sang (and not the expected *singed, which is blocked). Other words allow for a certain degree of variation in synonymous forms. When this variation is not fully reducible to other grammatical and social factors, it exhibits some degree of redundancy in the linguistic system, something known as overabundance. For example, many speakers of English accept two past tenses of kneel: kneeled and knelt. Languages vary in how much redundant variation they exhibit and in how much blocking they exhibit. My dissertation develops a typology of blocking and overabundance in the morphological systems of Central Eurasia. At a more general level I am interested understanding why some languages evolve to tolerate redundancy better than others, and in what factors make this redundancy stable or unstable across the historical development of related dialects.

My empirical focus is mostly on groups of languages with rich morphological systems: sign languages (e.g. American Sign Language, Azerbaijani Sign Language, Georgian Sign Language), the spoken languages of the Caucasus (e.g. Juhuri, Azerbaijani, Avar), and Turkic languages (e.g. also Azerbaijani). I am generally interested in the synchronic, diachronic, and typological analysis of these languages. I have also worked briefly on Kordofanian (e.g. Koalib) and Korean.

Qusar, 2018


I am currently teaching LIGN7 (Sign Languages & Their Cultures) for the Winter Quarter. 

All course materials are available through Canvas.

Office Hours:

Wednesdays, 1-2:30 PM in AP&M. Check syllabus for details.

Find me online:

Email mzaslans [at] ucsd [.] edu

G. Scholar My Google Scholar

LinkedIn My LinkedIn

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Find me offline:

Mailing address 

Linguistics Department, University of California, San Diego

9500 Gilman Drive, #0108, La Jolla, CA 92093-0108

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