My foremost goal is to understand language from a biological (“biolinguistic”) viewpoint on several timescales: throughout an individual’s life, across generations of humans, and evolutionarily in the history of our species. I specialize in how word and sentence structures (morphosyntax) are manifested by sound or sign (phonology). My work is aligned with the aims of Minimalism. Elsewhere on this site you can see more about what I’ve written, said, and taught.
The research program explored in my 2011 book involves rethinking the primitives of how sound structures are mentally represented in light of what we know about phonology’s interface with morphosyntax, language acquisition, linguistic variation/change, and cognition in other domains & species. During my postdoc at the University of Maryland, I engaged in experimental studies of sound pattern learning in both adults and infants using artificial language learning paradigms.
I take the “bio” side of biolinguistics very seriously; I’m interested in evolutionary biology beyond how it applies to language, as well as issues such as self-organization and the origins of heterogeneity/asymmetry in biological systems. I’ve been lucky enough to learn and think about these topics more broadly while working as a writer and editor in chemistry and biology.