Zoë Belk

Postdoctoral research associate
Department of Linguistics
University College London

I am a postdoctoral research associate on the Contemporary Hasidic Yiddish project at UCL. In addition to Yiddish, my research focuses on the nature of adjectival modification, and particularly on the nature of attribution. Key themes include adjective ordering restrictions, AP adjacency, bracketing paradoxes, and the difference between adnominal and other types of adjectival modification. 




Belk, Zoë, Lily Kahn & Kriszta Eszter Szendrői. (To appear). “Loss of case and gender within a generation: Evidence from Stamford Hill Hasidic Yiddish.” The Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics.

Belk, Zoë, Lily Kahn & Kriszta Eszter Szendrői. (Under review). “The Loshn Koydesh Component in Contemporary Hasidic Yiddish.” Journal of Jewish Languages.

Belk, Zoë, & Ad Neeleman. (Under revision). “Multi-dominance, Right-Node Raising and Coordination.” Linguistic Inquiry.

Belk, Zoë. 2019. “LF Bracketing Paradoxes: A New Account.” Syntax 22:24–65.

Belk, Zoë, & Ad Neeleman. 2017. “AP-Adjacency as a Precedence Constraint.” Linguistic Inquiry 48:1–45.

Belk, Zoë. 2013. “The Paradox of the Heavy Drinker.” UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 25:102–111.


Belk, Zoë. 2017. "Attributes of Attribution." PhD diss., UCL, London.

Belk, Zoë. 2012. "PP-Peripherality and Ambiguity in the Noun Phrase." MRes diss., UCL, London.

Belk, Zoë. 2011. "The Problem with Adjectives: Why the Quick Red Fox Doesn’t Jump Over the Brown Lazy Dog." BA (hons.) diss., McGill University, Montreal.

Selected talks

Belk, Zoë. 2020. “A sheyne vertl: What Yiddish can tell us about adjectival modification.” Invited talk presented at the Workshop on Formal and Experimental Approaches to Adjectival Modification, Goethe University Frankfurt. [slides]

Belk, Zoë, Lily Kahn & Kriszta Eszter Szendrői. 2019. “Innovations in the Hasidic Yiddish pronominal system.” Talk presented at the 7th International Jewish Languages Conference, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. [slides]

Belk, Zoë, Lily Kahn & Kriszta Eszter Szendrői. 2019. “No case for case (and gender) in Stamford Hill Hasidic Yiddish.” Talk presented at Yiddish Language Structures 2, University of Düsseldorf. [slides]

Belk, Zoë. 2017. “Attributives are not relatives: A single source analysis for attributive adjectives.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain, University of Kent. [slides]

Belk, Zoë. 2015. “Verbal bracketing paradoxes: What heavy drinkers can tell us about movement.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain, UCL. [slides]

Belk, Zoë. 2014. “What’s the Difference between a Nuclear Physicist and a Heavy Drinker? Resolving the Bracketing Paradox.” Paper presented at Manchester Forum in Linguistics, University of Manchester. [slides]


Belk, Zoë. 2015. “What’s the difference between a nuclear physicist and a heavy drinker? Resolving the bracketing paradox.” Poster and elevator pitch presented at Faculty of Brain Sciences Postgraduate Symposium, UCL. [poster]

Belk, Zoë. 2013. “AP-Adjacency and Ambiguity in the Noun Phrase.” Poster presented at UCL’s Division of Psychology and Language Sciences postgraduate conference, Cumberland Lodge. [poster]


Over the past five years, I have taught and marked for a variety of modules for undergraduates and postgraduates at UCL, including modules on academic skills, animal communication, cognitive neuroscience, phonology, introductory semantics, language acquisition, and a range of syntax modules.

PLIN0067 Intermediate Generative Grammar B: Word Order

PLIN1303 Core Issues in Linguistics

PLIN2101 Phonology of English

PLIN2109 Intermediate Phonetics and Phonology B

PLIN7310 Animal Communication and Human Language

PLIN1201 Introduction to Generative Grammar A

PLIN1202 Introduction to Generative Grammar B

PLIN1001 Introduction to Semantics and Pragmatics A

PLIN1601 Introduction to Children's Language Development

PLIN0047 Syntax

PLIN0053 Interfaces

PLING113 Phonetics and Phonology

PSYCGC08 Current Issues in Cognitive Neuroscience II: Elaborative and Adaptive Processes

I am available to supervise MA dissertations. Dissertations I have previously supervised focus on adjectival modification, the Mandarin de particle, and topics at the interfaces. 

About me

I’ve been fascinated by language for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a small town in Canada, a country where language is never far from anyone’s mind. I noticed that my English father sounded different from my American-educated mother, who sounded different from me. I noticed that my grandmother said “chesterfield” while my English cousins said “sofa” and my siblings and I said “couch” ([ kɛʊʧ ]). I liked to feel my tongue dance on the roof of my mouth when singing “O Canada” every morning, and was stunned to realize in grade four French that, despite being written with the same letters, the sounds of French were pretty different from those of English.

In high school I studied French, German, Latin and a tiny bit of Hindi, but quickly realized that I did not enjoy memorizing long lists of vocab or verb paradigms. It was around this point that I discovered linguistics. I did a BA in linguistics with a minor in French language at McGill University, during which I spent a year abroad at UCL. Under the influence of Jon Nissenbaum, Maire Noonan and Junko Shimoyama (and despite the influence of Charles Boberg, Heather Goad and Bernhard Schwarz), I became interested in syntax, and in adjectives in particular. My honours dissertation was an exploration of exceptions to adjective ordering restrictions. I returned to UCL for my master’s, where my MRes thesis was supervised by Ad Neeleman. It focused on the order and meaning associated with adjectival and prepositional modifiers of nouns. My doctoral dissertation explored the nature of attributive modification, and was supervised by Ad Neeleman and Klaus Abels.