I hold a joint position in the Department of Linguistics and the Program in Indo-European Studies at UCLA, as well as a courtesy appointment in the Department of Classics. My research is devoted to two broad areas. The first is the relationship between language change and linguistic theory, with a particular focus on syntactic and morphosyntactic change in Indo-European. The second is computational phylogenetics.
From December 2022 through July 2023, I will be a Visiting Fellow at Clare Hall, University of Cambridge. During Easter Term 2023, I will be a Lewis-Gibson Fellow at the Cambridge Centre for Greek Studies.
I am honored and thrilled to be a member of the 2021 cohort of Guggenheim Fellows.
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University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley
University of Oxford, Corpus Christi College
Divergence-time estimation is one of the most important endeavors in historical linguistics. Its importance is matched only by its difficulty. As Bayesian methods of divergence-time estimation have become more common over the past two decades, a number of critical issues have come to the fore, including model sensitivity, the dependence of root-age estimates on uncertain interior-node ages, and the relationship between ancient languages and their modern counterparts. This study addresses these issues in an investigation of a particularly fraught case within Indo-European, the diversification of Latin into the Romance languages. The results of this study support a gradualist account of their formation that most likely begins after 300 CE. They also bolster the view that Classical Latin is a sampled ancestor of the Romance languages (i.e., it lies along the branch leading to the Romance languages), with posterior probabilities ranging from approximately 70% to 90%.
Grammaticalization is characterized by robust directional asymmetries (e.g., Kuteva et al. 2019). For instance, body-part nominals develop into spatial adpositions, minimizers develop into negation markers, and subject pronouns become agreement markers. Changes in the opposite direction are either rare or unattested (Garrett 2012:52). Such robust cross-linguistic asymmetries have led some scholars to reify grammaticalization trajectories as universal mechanistic forces (Heath 1998:729). One consequence of such a view is that the ambient morphosyntax of a language has little or even no relevance for grammaticalization. This paper uses Bayesian phylogenetic methods to demonstrate the critical role that pre-existing morphosyntax can play in grammaticalization. The empirical basis for this claim is the grammaticalization of definite and indefinite articles in the history of Indo-European: indefinite articles developed at a faster rate among languages in which a definite article had already emerged compared to those lacking a definite article. The two changes are thus correlated. The results of this case study suggest that there is much more to be learned about when and why grammaticalization occurs by investigating its relationship to the pre-existing linguistic system (cf. Reinöhl and Himmelmann 2017:381).
I offer the first theoretically informed study of second-position clitics in Ancient Greek and challenges the long-standing belief that Greek word order is ‟free” or beyond the reach of systematic analysis. On the basis of Herodotus’ Histories, he demonstrates that there are in fact systematic correspondences between clause structure and meaning. Crucial to this new model of the Greek clause is Wackernagel’s Law, the generalization that enclitics and postpositives occur in ‟second position,” as these classes of words provide a stable anchor for analyzing sentence structure. The results of this work not only restore word order as an interpretive dimension of Greek texts, but also provide a framework for the investigation of other areas of syntax in Greek, as well as archaic Indo-European more broadly.