I am a linguist working on syntax and syntactic theory, as well as the syntax/semantics and syntax/morphology interfaces. My empirical research focuses primarily on Icelandic and (various varieties of) English, with comparisons to related languages. I am an Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Yale University. I completed my Ph.D. at New York University in 2012 under the direction of Alec Marantz. On this page, you can find information about me and my research, as well as downloadable papers and relevant links.
I am pursuing several strands of research, most of which revolve around one central question: how is natural language designed so that structured representations of very different kinds can be systematically related to each other? At a minimum, natural language must have structured meanings and structured (morphophonological) strings; somehow, we are able to ‘translate’ these very different kinds of structures, so that a hearer is able to extract a structured meaning from a structured string of speech sounds. The hypothesis I have been pursuing is that the syntactic component builds representations which are featurally underspecified, so that the same representations can be used by the semantics and by the morphology. I have begun to develop this view in some detail in my Ph.D. thesis Icelandic Morphosyntax and Argument Structure, focusing specifically on argument structure and thematic interpretation.
I began studying Icelandic while fixing helicopters at NAS Keflavík, Iceland in 2003 with the US Air Force. I became fascinated with that language and with language in general, so after separating from the Air Force, I pursued a B.A. in Linguistics at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), where I worked with Naomi Nagy and Shelly Lieber. I graduated in 2006, writing my B.A. thesis on Icelandic syntax, specifically focusing on a word order known as “stylistic fronting.” I continued to study Icelandic syntax and syntactic theory as a Ph.D. student at New York University and completed my Ph.D. under the direction of Alec Marantz in May of 2012. My thesis focuses on how the meaning and structure of Icelandic verbs interact with the syntax of those verbs. While Icelandic syntax is extremely interesting in its own right, the ultimate goal is to find out what individual languages like Icelandic can tell us about the human capacity for language and human cognition in general. A large part of my work has pursued the hypothesis that roots, words and affixes in natural language do not have fully formed meanings independent of the syntactic structures in which they are embedded.