About Me

My main research interest is syntactic theory—particularly generative syntactic theory. That is, I am interested in developing syntactic theory as a formal system, its primitives, assumptions, and logical framework. Although syntactic theory is the focus of my research and has been the focus of my training, I view it as only a part of a larger linguistic theory, which itself is only a part of a larger theory of cognition. As a result of this perspective, I take the empirical measure of syntactic theory to be how well it answers the big questions of language. These “big questions” include those that have driven the generative enterprise since its inception in the 1950s, such as the logical problems of language acquisition and language variation, and questions that have been raised more recently, such as the question of language evolution. These questions, of course, have general and particular versions. The general versions ask how any linguistic system could be acquired with variation and how any system could have evolved, while the particular versions are asked of the actual faculty of language.

From this perspective, I currently have three main avenues of research. The first, which my thesis work began, is an integrated approach to the acquisition of syntactic variation. Second, I am interested in updating our theory of the interface between the narrow syntax and the conceptual-intentional system such that it incorporates recent developments in syntactic theory. Finally, I am developing a novel theory of adjuncts. These research projects are highly theoretical; a linguist, however, cannot spend their days entirely with their head in the theoretical clouds. As such, I am also interested in more concrete data-driven projects, such as the syntax and semantics of spatial prepositions and the interplay of syntactic structure and discourse pragmatics.