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LSU Today Flagship Faculty
What was your previous position and where?Before I came to LSU, I was a visiting assistant professor in the linguistics program at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.
What brought you to LSU?I was attracted to LSU by the strong, multi-faceted English department, where I have my appointment, and by the vibrant Interdepartmental Linguistics Program, which enjoys the participation of faculty from a wide range of departments at LSU.
What is your research interest?I am interested in the syntactic structure and semantic interpretation of natural (human) languages, and how theoretical work in these areas can illuminate aspects of child language development and certain forms of language impairment and, in turn, be illuminated by them.
What do you hope to accomplish at LSU?At an intellectual level, I hope to collaborate with colleagues in other departments in applying linguistic ideas to the study of child language development and language impairment; and I hope to collaborate with my colleagues in the English department and in other departments to better understand what human language is, what its potential is and how insights from detailed empirical study of language can mesh with insights from the study of how language is used and interpreted in social, artistic and professional contexts.
At an institutional level, I hope to keep the Interdepartmental Linguistics Program together despite the closing of its graduate programs, and to build the undergraduate minor in linguistics towards the establishment of a major. In the English department, I want to work with my colleagues to continue to define the undergraduate concentration in writing and culture, and to build the graduate concentration in English linguistics.
What do you enjoy most about LSU?Working with first-rate colleagues and with students who (for the most part) come to class eager to learn.
What are your major accomplishments?In research, I developed a unified theory of sentence structure above the lexical level which provides plausible accounts of cross-language variation in various grammatical properties, and which accounts for previously unexplained patterns in the development of sentence structure by young children learning a language. In a separate project, I explained some previously inexplicable facts about the accessibility to reference - that is, the availability for being talked about - of abstract entities such as propositions and facts, based on how they were introduced and kept track of in a text or discourse.
In teaching and service, helping to bring greater definition to the writing and culture concentration of the English undergraduate major, in a collaborative effort with my colleagues who teach in this concentration.