I’m a linguist.
I hold the position of Associate Professor at the University of Maryland.
My research interests span the linguistic sub-fields traditionally identified as syntax and morphology.
I work on phenomena that resist explanation in terms of sound and/or meaning. (If you are unfamiliar with linguistics, the very idea that such phenomena exist might strike you as a little bit counter-intuitive. But phenomena of this sort are surprisingly common in natural language!)
Lately, I have become particularly interested in issues of modularity. Specifically, I have come to believe that much of what passes for “syntax” these days is actually semantics, masquerading as syntax. (Or, if you prefer: semantics, obliquely described using the vocabulary of syntactic theory.) The idea of a transparent & reliable mapping between syntax and semantics is an indispensable methodological heuristic; but as a bona fide principle of grammar, it is clearly false. And yet much of contemporary syntactic theory is predicated on this very assumption.
I think we can do better; and I think agreement and case hold the key to this. That’s because agreement and case are hierarchy-sensitive phenomena that cannot be reduced to interpretation, and thus, provide an ideal window into that which is quintessentially syntactic.
Some of the topics I am interested in are:
- predicate-argument agreement
- nominal case
- the Person Case Constraint (PCC)
- clitic doubling
- head movement
I work on various (and often unrelated) languages, including: Basque, Icelandic, English, Hebrew, Kaqchikel, Q’anjob’al, Sakha, Kinyarwanda, Shi, Oromo, and Georgian.
See my research page for further details.
And now, a linguistic Dinosaur Comic:
(made using the blank Dinosaur Comic template, available here)