I am a specialist in theoretical syntax, which means that I study how words are joined together to form sentences in particular languages, with an eye towards creating a model of how this works in human language in general. I have worked especially on Spanish, English and Chinese, dealing with issues such as the syntactic representation of argument structure, the interplay between wh-movement and the subject position, and the formal representation of phrase structure. My current work focuses on wh-dependencies and what they can tell us about the nature of grammar and the role of working memory in syntactic phenomena. I do this work in the Experimental Syntax Lab at UCSD, which I direct.

 I also work on using findings from linguistics, psychology and cognitive science to improve second language teaching and learning. This involves the creation of materials to produce a more effective environment for language acquisition in classroom settings. The main result of this project so far has been Conectate: Introductory Spanish with co-author Darcy Lear.

 Parallel Structures in Syntax     Contemporary Research in Romance Linguistics      Conectate

Selected publications:

■      "The D-linking effect on extraction from islands and non-islands."  Frontiers in Psychology: Language Sciences. 5:1493. 2015. Link

■      "Finiteness and the nature of island constraints.With Dan Michel. In Proceedings of GLOW in Asia IX 2012: The Main Session, edited by Nobu Goto, Koichi Otaki, Atsushi Sato & Kensuke Takita. Pp. 187-197. 2013. Link

■      "Is Magnitude Estimation Worth the Trouble?"  With Shin Fukuda, Dan Michel, and Henry Beecher. In Proceedings of the 29th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, edited by Jaehoon Choi, E. Alan Hogue, Jeffrey Punske, Deniz Tat, Jessamyn Schertz, and Alex Trueman. Cascadilla Proceedings Project. Pp. 328-336.. 2012. Link

■     "Syntactic satiation and the inversion effect in English and Spanish wh-questions." Syntax. 2011.  PDF

■     "Age-related Effects on Constraints on Wh-movement." With Boyoung Kim. In Proceedings of the 11th Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition Conference (GASLA 2011), edited by Julia Herschensohn and Darren Tanner. Cascadilla Proceedings Project. Pp. 54-62. 2011PDF

■     "Input from Spanish textbooks: Two case studies of poverty/richness of the stimulus." Selected Proceedings of the 12th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium, Claudia Borgonovo, Manuel Espanol-Echevarria, Philippe Prevost (eds.). Cascadilla Proceedings Project, Somerville MA. Pp. 260-269. 2010.   PDF

■     "Experimenting with wh-movement in Spanish." Romance Linguistics 2008: Interactions in Romance, Karlos Arregi, Zsuzsanna Fagyal, Silvina A. Montrul and Annie Tremblay (eds.). John Benjamins, Amsterdam. Pp. 233-248. 2010.  PDF

■     "The limits of syntax in inversion."  Proceedings of the 41st Annual Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society. Pp. 161-174. 2008.  PDF

■     "Inversion in wh-questions in child Romance and child English."  Selected Proceedings of the 36th Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages, Maria Jose Cabrera, Jose Camacho, Viviane Deprez, Nydia Flores and Liliana Sanchez (eds.).  John Benjamins, Amsterdam. Pp. 169-182. 2007.  PDF

■     "Contraction."  The Blackwell Companion to Syntax, Martin Everaert and Henk van Riemsdijk (eds.).  Blackwell, Oxford.  Vol. 1, pp. 688-704. 2005.  PDF

■     "On the Syntax and Processing of Wh-questions in Spanish." Proceedings of the 23rd West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, Benjamin Schmeiser, Vineeta Chand, Ann Kelleher and Angelo Rodriguez (eds.). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press. Pp. 237-250.  2004.  PDF

■     "The EPP in Spanish."  Objects and Other Subjects, William Davies and Stanley Dubinsky (eds.). Kluwer. Pp. 193 - 223. 2001.  PDF

     "Theta-alignment and the by-phrase." Chicago Linguistic Society 33, vol. I: The Main Session, Chicago Linguistic Society. Pp. 129-139. 1997. PDF

■     "SPEC of IP and SPEC of CP in Spanish wh-questions."  Linguistic Perspectives on the Romance Languages: Selected Papers from the XXI Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages, William J. Ashby, Marianne Mithun, Giorgio Perissinotto, and Eduardo Raposo (eds.).  John Benjamins Publishing, Amsterdam.  Pp. 199-209.  1993.  PDF

■     "On the status of SPEC of IP."  Proceedings of the Tenth West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, Dawn Bates (ed.).  Stanford Linguistics Association/Center for the Study of Language and Information (Stanford). Distributed by University of Chicago Press.  Pp. 175-182.  1992.  PDF

■     "Wanna-contraction as restructuring."  Interdisciplinary Approaches to Language: Essays in Honor of S.-Y. Kuroda, Carol Georgopoulos and Roberta Ishihara (eds.), Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp. 239-254. 1991.  PDF

■     Parallel Structures in Syntax: Coordination, Causatives and Restructuring.  Cambridge University Press, 1987.  Pp. xiii, 194.  Now in paperback:  CUP  Amazon 

Selected presentations:

       ■    New evidence on D-linking. (presented at CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing 2013). Poster

       ■    (Adjunct) islands and the finiteness effect. With Dan Michel (presented at CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing 2012). Slides

       ■    Do resumptive pronouns ever rescue illicit gaps in English? With Bethany Keffala (presented at CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing 2011).  Poster

       ■    What is experimental syntax good for?  Keynote address at UTASCILT 18.  Slides

       ■     Subject-Verb Inversion and Verb Finiteness are Independent in Spanish.  With John Grinstead and Mariana Vega-Mendoza (presented at Hispanic Linguistics Symposium 2010 and Boston University Conference on Language Development 2010).  Poster   Slides

       ■     Comparing three methods for sentence judgment experiments. With Shin Fukuda, Dan Michel, and Henry Beecher. Annual Meeting of Linguistic Society of America, Baltimore (January 2010).  PDF

       ■     Experimenting with wh-movement in Spanish (Presented at LSRL 38, University of Illinois, April 2008)  PDF