Academic Writing

2011 - A note on Kim's Korean question particles seen as pronouns - This is a short squib aiming to capture an intriguing generalisation discovered by Kim 2010. Kim shows that Korean question particles and Korean pronouns are plausibly one and the same thing. However, when trying to capture that generalisation, Kim runs into a dilemma: either the lexical entry of the pronouns is pronominal, and then we fail to explain why those pronouns can additionally appear in question contexts (and in question contexts only), or the lexical entry mentions the question context, but then the parallelism with pronouns is lost. Here, I show that phrasal spellout automatically solves the problem.
2011 - Towards elegant parameters: Language variation reduces to the size of lexically stored trees - This paper explores a restrictive and principled approach to parameters. Three decades after the "Principles and Parameters" revolution, we still have no theory of syntactic variation. Thirty years ago, if some element moved in one language but not in another, this would be expressed by adding a movement rule to one language but not to the other. Today, it is expressed by adding a feature "I want to move" ("EPP", "strength", etc.) to the elements of one language but not of the other. In both cases (and in all attempts between them), we express variation by stipulating it, via the postulation of a brute-force marker. This paper shows that you can do variation without inventing any dedicated marker such as "EPP features" or "strength of features". The solution is simple: if you allow lexical items to spell out entire syntactic phrases, some lexemes will be bigger phrases, some will be smaller phrases – and I explore the conjecture that this is all we need for cross-linguistic variation.
2010 - Prefixes as specifiers - the case of Nguni class markers - This is a follow up on an earlier paper by Taraldsen on Nguni class markers. In that paper, Taraldsen argued that those prefixes are syntactically complex, and ended up treating them as realizing a non-constituent stretch of functional projections. Here we show that it is better both theoretically and empirically to treat them as constituents. This makes them something akin to specifiers in standard approaches, and "projecting phrases" in the technology of Starke 2004.
2009 - Nanosyntax: A short primer to a new approach to language - Nanosyntax is a new approach to the architecture of language, designed to make (better) sense of the new empirical picture emerging from recent years of syntactic research. It is a large-scale project, addressing a wide array of issues, ranging from big issues such as the modularity of language, to fine details, such as the derivation of allomorphy in irregular patterns of given languages and its interaction with syntactic structures.
2009 - The Kusaal noun phrase in the U20 perspective
2004 - On the Inexistance of Specifiers and the Nature of Heads - This article argues that there never is both a specifier and a head present at the same time. Hence what we took to be "specifiers" are in fact heads in the sense that they also project a phrase and label it. For instance, a moved wh-constituent is not a "specifier" of CP, rather the wh feature inside that moved constituent project the WhP, ie CP. (This is a chapter of the 2001 PhD, published in 2004 in a book about cartography)
2001 - Move reduces to merge: A theory of locality - PhD thesis unifying locality, and proposing two theoretical innovations: remerge (called internal merge in a contemporary proposal by Chomsky) and a simplification of phrase-structure in which there are no specifiers (but rather "phrasal heads")
1999 - The Typology of Structural Deficiency
1996 - Deficient pronouns: A view from Germanic - This is a 1996 paper illustrating how the tripartition of pronouns into clitic < weak < strong from Cardinaletti & Starke 1993/1999 applies to Germanic. [published in in Thrainsson, Epstein and Peter (1996) Studies in Comparative Germanic Syntax, vol 2, Kluwer.]
1995 - On the Format for Small Clauses - At the time where small clauses were thought of as tiny pieces of barely structured syntax, this paper argued that they are in fact full CP clauses.