My research covers a wide range of topics related to understanding linguistic diversity and the preservation and description of languages. To date, this includes work on Eleme (Ogonoid, Niger-Congo), Gurung, Gyalsumdo, Manange, Nar-Phu (Bodic, Tibeto-Burman), Archi (Lezgic, Nakh-Daghestanian) and Nuer (Western Nilotic, Nilo-Saharan).
My major research interests lie in:
I am currently working on three AHRC-funded research projects exploring issues in morphology and syntax:
Prominent possessors are possessors that can control agreement or switch reference. As part of the AHRC-funded project 'Prominent possessors', I am working with Irina Nikolaeva and Sandy Ritchie at SOAS, and Greville G. Corbett in SMG, to determine which factors are important when possessors that are internal to an argument noun phrase take on an unexpectedly prominent role in syntax.
Loss of inflection
As part of the AHRC-funded project 'Loss of inflection' I am working alongside Matthew Baerman, Greville G. Corbett and Helen Sims-Williams in SMG to investigate regularities in the way that inflectional systems are lost over time, using case studies from languages spoken across the world.
Morphological complexity in Nuer
Nuer is a Western Nilotic (Nilo-Saharan) language spoken primarily in South Sudan. As part of the AHRC funded project 'Morphological complexity in Nuer' I am working with Matthew Baerman, Irina Monich and Tatiana Reid in SMG and Bert Remijsen from the University of Edinburgh to investigate the complex system of morphology in this widely spoken but under-described language.
I have recently completed work on two further projects on the nature of argument marking:
Optional ergative case marking
For the British Academy funded project 'Optional ergative case-marking: What can be expressed by its absence?' I examined the factors motivating the presence of ergative case marking in the languages of Manang District, Nepal. A journal article on the origins of differential ergative case marking in Tamangic languages is currently in preparation.
From competing theories to fieldwork
In the AHRC funded project 'From competing theories to fieldwork: The challenge of an extreme agreement system' the project team examined the complex agreement system of Archi (Lezgic, Nakh-Daghestanian) from the perspective of three different syntactic theories, resulting in an edited volume with Oxford University Press:
Fieldwork on languages of Africa and Asia
Although I work on a variety of topics, my background is in Africanist linguistics. Much of my early work describes typologically unusual aspects of the morphosyntax of Eleme (Ogonoid, Benue-Congo), an under-described Niger-Congo language spoken in southeast Nigeria.
Since 2012, my main fieldwork focus has moved to Nepal, where I have been working on four Tibeto-Burman languages - Manang Gurung, Manange, Nar-Phu and Gyalsumdo - which are spoken in the villages of Manang District. This fieldwork is conducted in collaboration with Kristine Hildebrandt (SIUE), Dubi Nanda Dhakal (Tribhuvan University) and other members of the Manang Languages Project.
In the UK, I have also been working with speakers of Nuer (Western Nilotic, Nilo-Saharan) and Maithili (Bihari, Indo-Aryan).
For more on my research, publications and presentations:
I am the convenor for the following UG and PG modules:
Member of the Research Data Management Steering Group
PhD Coordinator for SMG
Linguistics Pathway Chair for the ESRC South East Network for Social Sciences (SeNSS) Doctoral Training Partnership
I am a member of the following academic organisations:
Find me on campus Room: 01 AC 05
Monday 11.30 - 13.30
Tuesday 12.00 - 13.00
Alternatively, please contact me by email to make an appointment.
My research day is Thursday. I am not available for appointments on this day.
Morphological marking of negation through verbal reduplication and tone is a typologically rare phenomenon attested in Eleme (Niger-Congo; Nigeria). Using Lexical Functional Grammar (LFG) and Paradigm Function Morphology (PFM) to model first-hand data, I argue that reduplication is not a direct exponent of negation in Eleme, but an asemantic morphomic process, indirectly associated with the presence of a negative polarity feature in LFG’s m(orphological)-structure. While negative verb forms of this kind are typologically unusual, the data can be explained by independently motivated morphology-internal principles. The empirical facts thereby provide support for an m-structure, characterised by its own principles and rules, which interfaces with a bifurcated lexicon that separates content from form.
Cognate-Head-Dependent Constructions (CHDCs) are employed across numerous genera in Africa to signpost alternations in the aspectual characteristics of a predicate or the information focus of a clause. The co-occurrence of a finite lexical verb (the cognate head) and an etymologically related (deverbal) noun or non-finite verb form (the cognate dependent) in such structures is interpreted with reference to the scalar semantics of events and properties. Within this areal typology, CHDCs are employed to indicate either (i) a high point relative to a norm on a semantic scale, or (ii) a conventionally low-ranked possibility, in order to implicitly contrast possible alternatives.
Mismatches in the morphosyntactic features of controllers and targets in the Eleme (Ogonoid, Niger-Congo) participant reference system allow for a subject agreement paradigm in which the person of the grammatical subject is indicated by a verbal prefix, while plural number is marked by a suffix on different targets — either lexical verbs or auxiliaries — based on the person value of the controller. I examine the distribution of Eleme ‘Default Subject’ agreement affixes and the intra-paradigmatic asymmetry found between second-person plural and third-person plural subjects in Auxiliary Verb Constructions (AVC) and Serial Verb Constructions (SVC). I argue that the criteria by which the various agreement affixes select an appropriate morphological host can be modelled in terms of agreement prerequisites even when distributional variation is paradigm internal.
The world atlas of language structures (WALS) originally appealed to the linguistics community as a resource for research. However, the relevance of the feature chapters to teaching environments and the user-friendly nature of the Interactive Reference Tool also make it suitable for university classrooms. Based on our experiences using WALS in two typology courses at the University of Manchester and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), we provide a review of WALS as a teaching and learning tool, including both its successes and frustrations. We note some methodological and technical issues with using WALS in the university classroom, including problems of over- and under-sampling, and a lack of coverage on typological rarities. However, we have also found that WALS has much to offer instructors and students in terms of its breadth of topic coverage, the linkage of the feature chapters with course reading assignments, the wealth of genealogical, geographical, and bibliographic information on individual languages, and the hands-on experience that the Interactive Reference Tool offers students.
A collection dealing with language documentation and linguistic theory from a conference held at SOAS on 19- 20 November 2011. Papers by Peter Austin, Oliver Bond, Lutz Marten & David Nathan, Balthasar Bickel, Anju Saxena, Anvita Abbi, Cathryn Bartram, Henrik Bergqvist, Martine Bruil, Eliane Camargo & Sabine Reiter, Kearsy Cormier, Jordan Fenlon, Ramas Rentelis, & Adam Schembri, Simeon Floyd & Martine Bruil, Diana Forker, Michael Franjieh & Kilu von Prince, Brent Henderson & Charles Kisseberth, Brent Henderson, Kristine Hildebrandt & Oliver Bond, Dorothea Hoffmann, Lena Karvovskaya, Olesya Khanina & Andrey Shluinsky, Lutz Marten, Andrew Nevins & Denny Moore, J. Joseph Perry, Chaithra Puttaswamy, Oriana Reid-Collins, Sonja Riesberg, Serge Sagna, Antoinette Schapper & Marian Klamer, Stavros Skopeteas, Yuko Sugita, Alex Trueman & Heidi Harley, Stefano Versace & Nigel Fabb, Radu Voica, and Christina M. Willis.
This is the first book to present Canonical Typology, a framework for comparing constructions and categories across languages. The canonical method takes the criteria used to define particular categories or phenomena (eg negation, finiteness, possession) to create a multidimensional space in which language-specific instances can be placed. In this way, the issue of fit becomes a matter of greater or lesser proximity to a canonical ideal. Drawing on the expertise of world class scholars in the field, the book addresses the issue of cross-linguistic comparability, illustrates the range of areas - from morphosyntactic features to reported speech - to which linguists are currently applying this methodology, and explores to what degree the approach succeeds in discovering the elusive canon of linguistic phenomena.
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