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What is it about human beings that makes us linguistic creatures? All human cultures and societies, no matter how different, use language. We use it to plan our actions, to clarify our thoughts, to communicate with each other, to express our deepest emotions, and for many other purposes. But what is this  ‘it’ we are using? What is the nature of language itself?

My research tries to uncover some of the basic properties of language. I’m interested in how linguistic structures or patterns work to connect meaning with outward form. Some of this work is written up as  publications, and some is available through videos and audios of talks and interviews, and I’m involved in a number of ongoing funded projects.

My work falls into various overlapping themes.

2011-03-17 14.55.59

From Core Syntax: a Minimalist approach


How is structure built and interpreted?



2012-11-16 14.18.31

Commercial Street, East London




Structure in use: socio-syntax




2006-09-25 08.16.34

View across Eilean Iarmain, Isle of Skye




Endangered and lesser used languages




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