Research and papers

For a full CV, please follow the link from my NTNU webpage.

I specialize in generative syntax, in the Chomskyan tradition, with a secondary focus on semantics, and in general I am interested in the interfaces between the three ‘core’ areas of linguistics (syntax, semantics, phonology). Ellipsis—where a hearer interprets semantic meaning, and apparently also syntactic structure, even in the absence of any phonological signal—is the ‘interface’ topic par excellence, and a lot of my research investigates the properties of ellipsis, particularly clausal ellipsis (‘sluicing’ and fragment answers).

I am also interested in microvariation—particularly syntactic and semantic features of dialects of English, especially Scottish English, and of ‘reduced written register’ such as diaries, text messages, headlines etc.

Below are some publications of mine on these (and other) topics. (I’ve tried to classify them by topic, although some of the papers overlap two or more of these areas.) I have included some conference handouts if I haven’t written the material up in that handout more formally (proceedings paper, journal article etc.).


Left-edge ellipsis and clausal ellipsis: The division of labor between syntax, semantics and prosody. 2018. Invited talk at workshop on ‘The timing of ellipsis’ at the Societas Linguistica Europaea annual meeting, Tallinn University, Estonia.

Cointensional questions, fragment answers, and structured meanings. 2018. In Truswell, Robert, Chris Cummins, Caroline Heycock, Brian Rabern & Hannah Rohde (eds.), Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 21. 1289-1306.

But write what? 2017. In A Schrift to Fest Kyle Johnson [UMass Amherst Linguistics Open Access Publications 1], eds. Nicholas LaCara, Keir Moulton & Anne-Michelle Tessier. 401-408. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts.

Sentential and possibly subsentential modification: the ambiguity of Collins constructions (with Elizabeth Bogal-Allbritten). 2017. Proceedings of NELS 47 (pre-publication draft).

‘DP be CP’ constructions and the licensing of clausal ellipsis. 2017. Proceedings of NELS 47 (pre-publication draft).

The prosodic licensing of left-edge ellipsis and implications for clausal ellipsis. 2016. Invited presentation at Ellipsis and Prosody workshop, Leiden University.

Fragment answers and ‘exceptional movement under ellipsis’: A PF-movement account. 2015. In Bui, Thuy and Deniz Özyıldız (eds.), Proceedings of NELS 45. 175-188.

Fragments and clausal ellipsis. 2014. Doctoral dissertation, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

  • The analysis in Chapter 3 of the dissertation, on the semantic condition on clausal ellipsis, is largely superseded by my 2017 paper ‘Cointensional questions and their implications for fragment answers’. Doubt is cast on the analysis in chapter 4 by the work above on ‘Left-edge ellipsis and clausal ellipsis’, especially the 2018 handout, though the jury’s still out I think. The analysis in chapter 5, on embedded fragments, is developed in ‘‘DP be CP’ constructions and the licensing of clausal ellipsis’.

Fragment answers and the Question under Discussion. 2014. In Iyer, Jyoti & Leland Kusmer (eds.), Proceedings of NELS 44. 255-266.

  • The analysis in this paper is largely superseded by my 2017 paper ‘Cointensional questions and their implications for fragment answers’.

Why-stripping targets Voice Phrase. 2014. In Huang, Hsin-lun, Ethan Poole & Amanda Rysling (eds.), Proceedings of NELS 43. 235-248.

‘Reduced written register’

Object drop and article drop in reduced written register. 2017. Linguistic Variation 17(2): 157–85.

Article drop in headlines and truncation of CP. 2013. LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts.

Left edge deletion in English and subject omission in diaries. 2012. English Language and Linguistics 16(1):105–29.

Article drop in headlines: failure of CP-level Agree. 2012. Ms.

  • Presents, in detail, an analysis of article drop which is similar to but distinct from that presented in the LSA abstract linked to above. I thought that the LSA presentation superseded this paper, but as of now (2017), I am not sure which analysis is closer to correct; I plan to attack this and give a (closer to) definitive answer in future work.

Article drop in English headlinese. 2009. MA thesis, University College London.

Subject pronoun drop in informal English. 2009. Richard M. Hogg Prize winning essay.

  • This is a retouched and generally better version of my (2008) undergraduate thesis, with the same title; you can download that here if you want, but really, if you’re interested you’re better off with what appeared in EL&L, above.


Away you to school: Postverbal imperative subjects from Scotland to Belfast. Submitted. (link to lingbuzz version)

Predicate that-anaphora in English and beyond. 2018. Colloquium talk, CASTL/University of Tromsø.

Phrasal pronominalization and intra-Germanic variation in predicate that-anaphora. 2016. Presentation at CGSW 31, Stellenbosch University.

That’s that construction analysed: that be ‘resultatives’ in Scottish English. 2016. Presentation at the LAGB Annual Meeting, University of York.

Finiteness and response particles in West Flemish (with Liliane Haegeman). 2016. In Finiteness matters: finiteness-related phenomena in natural language [Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today 231], ed. Kristin Melum Eide. 211-254. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. (Link to pre-publication draft—please check the final version for citation purposes.)

The cartography of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in West Flemish (with Liliane Haegeman). 2015. In Discourse-oriented syntax [Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today 226], eds. Josef Bayer, Roland Hinterhölzl & Andreas Trotzke. 175-210. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. (Link to pre-publication draft on LingBuzz—please check the final version for citation purposes.)

Against the root analysis of subject contact relatives in English (with Liliane Haegeman, Lieven Danckaert, Tijs D’Hulster, and Liisa Buelens). 2015. Lingua 163:61–74.

The syntax of imperatives in Scots. 2013. In Cruickshank, Janet & Millar, Robert M. (eds.), After the Storm: Papers from the Forum for Research on the Languages of Scotland and Ulster triennial meeting, Aberdeen 2012. 261–85.

  • Here is a direct link to the proceedings version, which has the right pagination and the like; but something went wrong in the production process with the placement of the trees. The above is a link to the submitted version which doesn’t have those problems.

Scots –na: clitic or affix? 2007. Ms.

  • On the status of the -na(e) negation marker in Scots. Be gentle with this one; it’s an undergraduate term paper, and my thinking (and how I would express certain things) has changed a bit since then. I’ve made it available because it’s referred to in some other places. Eventually I’ll revise this.


Some, speaker knowledge, and subkinds. 2012. In Rendsvig, Rasmus K. and Sophia Katenko (eds.), Proceedings of the ESSLLI 2012 Student Session.

And: I presented a couple of general-interest talks at the British Esperanto Congress, 19-21 May 2017. For anyone interested, here are the slides (though they’re in Esperanto, of course) / Mi prezentis du prelegojn ĉe la Brita Esperanto-Kongreso, de la 19a ĝis la 21a de majo 2017. Se vi interesiĝas, jen la lumbildoj: Lingvo: kio distingas nin de la bestoj (?) [Language: what distinguishes us from animals (?)]; and/kaj La lingva situacio en Norvegio: ĉu lecionoj por la skota lingvo? [The language situation in Norway: lessons for Scots?]