Profile photo smHello! I am a Term Assistant Professor in Linguistics within the Department of English at George Mason University. I recently earned my Ph.D in linguistics from the Department of Linguistics at the University of Southern California.


My research is focused in syntax and phonology, with attention to their interfaces. Broadly, I am interested in the syntactic and phonological sources of word-order variation, and the ways in which they interact in formal grammar. My recent work investigates the syntax of functional heads as well as aspects of Prosodic Phonology and the morphology-phonology interface. More information about my previous and ongoing work can be found below.

My CV is available here (updated October, 2016)


Coalescence, Feature Scattering and variation the Left Periphery
This paper addresses the question of cross-linguistic variation in the realization of positions within the clausal left periphery (Rizzi 1997; Benincà and Poletto 2004, a.o.), looking primarily at second-position phenomena with varying degrees of strictness. I argue for a theory that allows multiple category features to be bundled on single heads (e.g. Feature Scattering; Giorgi and Pianesi 1996). Rather than situate the operation in the lexicon or in a postsyntactic component, I argue that bundling takes place during the syntactic derivation, via an operation called Coalescence. I further argue that Coalescence is motivated by a need to eliminate heads that are deficient for interpretation at PF.
[NELS 46 handout][NELS 46 proceedings paper DRAFT]

Scalar positional constraints in Harmonic Grammar (joint work with Karen Jesney)
This project proposes a new account of positional licensing and positional markedness effects in Harmonic Grammar (Legendre, Miyata & Smolensky 1990), arguing that weighted constraints are additionally scaled according to some degree of prosodic or morphological prominence. We argue that weighted and scaled constraints account for attested typologies with a reduced constraint set, while avoiding overgeneralization predicted by indexed positional constraints in Optimality Theory (Prince & Smolensky 1993/2004).
[CLS 51 handout][CLS 51 proceedings paper – prepublication draft] [MFM 23 handout]

Variation in Bangla complementizer order as syntax-prosody interaction
This work provides an interface account for a puzzling variation in the ordering of the finite complementizer je in Bangla; je is obligatorily initial in postverbal embedded clauses, but non-initial in preverbal embedded clauses. I argue that non-initial complementizer placement is derived by lower-copy spell-out (Bošković 2001) within the extended CP domain (Rizzi 1997), and that the pronunciation of a lower copy takes place to satisfy a prosodically-motivated constraint that disfavors je at an intonational phrase edge.
[NELS 45 poster] [NELS 45 handout] [NELS 45 proceedings paper-prepublication draft]

Prosodic constraint indexation
In a common form of prosodic derived environment blocking, markedness-reducing phonological processes fail to apply across sufficiently large prosodic junctures. These papers account for such effects in Optimality Theory (Prince & Smolensky 1993/2004) by positional markedness constraints violated only when a marked structure is fully contained within the span of an indexed prosodic constituent. These constraints also predict the emergence of more marked sequences within extraprosodic morphemes. The CLS 49 proceedings paper applies these constraints to derive the distribution of French nasal vowels, and further proposes an account of liaison as the result of exceptional prosodification.
[AMP 2013 proceedings paper] [CLS 49 proceedings paper-prepublication draft]

The ClP/NP split in bare nouns
Looking primarily at French, this work proposes a distinction between two classes of bare nominals, true bare Noun Phrases (NPs) and those that additionally project to Classifier Phrases (ClPs). The distinction is argued to account for a number of differences between bare predicate nominals and those with articles, and two classes of verbal idioms. Among other differences, I show that only NPs denote gradable properties, and that only ClPs allow the insertion of articles without additional modification.
[Going Romance 2012 handout]