My PhD investigated the extent to which conversational turn-taking and signposting in dialogue is in some sense ‘hardwired’ into the grammatical core of human language, taking variation between members of the Ibero-Romance language family as a testing ground, whereas my most recent project (originally funded by a Drapers’ Company Research Fellowship at Pembroke College, Cambridge) examines what —beyond geography and genetics— distinguishes the Ibero-Romance branch from other Romance language families, and whether, in fact, we can even talk of an ‘Ibero-Romance’ grammar in terms of these languages’ linguistic properties alone.
I am currently writing a monograph (under contract, Oxford University Press) on illocutionary complementisers and utterance syntax in Ibero-Romance, which asks what happens when exclusively grammatical items (specifically, subordinators) come to be used as conversational signposts (e.g. ‘pay attention to what follows’), losing their core function (i.e. subordination) along the way; or, put differently, where the limits of syntactic structure lie.
My theoretical interests include clause structure; utterance syntax; the syntax-pragmatics interface; complementizers and complementizer systems; auxiliary selection; word order; the status of left-peripheral elements; the notion of subjecthood and ‘expletives’; case marking in Romance; the null subject parameter and typology.
I am also interested in the documentation of understudied and endangered (Ibero-Romance) languages as well as the development of empirically-sound, qualitative methodologies for generative research. I am currently collaborating with colleagues in the UK and Catalonia on initiatives promoting the teaching and learning of theoretical linguistics in secondary education, particularly in the modern foreign language (A-Level) classroom.