William O'Grady


Department of Linguistics
University of Hawai‘i at Manoa
1890 East-West Road, Moore Hall 569
Honolulu, HI 96822

Office: Moore Hall, Room 565
E-mail: ogrady@hawaii.edu
Phone: (808) 956-3228

Academic Background

B.A. University of Prince Edward Island
M.A. Université Laval
M.Ed. Harvard University
Ph.D. University of Chicago


My primary research interests fall into three areas—syntactic theory, language acquisition, and Korean.

My current work on syntactic theory focuses on emergentism—the idea that the properties of language are best understood in terms of the interaction of more basic, nonlinguistic forces. My research concentrates on the role of the processor, which I take to lie at the heart of the human language faculty and to be responsible for most (perhaps all) of the facts traditionally attributed to Universal Grammar. Syntactic Carpentry (published in 2005 by Erlbaum) provides a detailed outline of this idea, illustrating how many core ‘grammatical’ phenomena can be traced to the operation of an efficiency-driven processor whose primary goal is simply to reduce the burden on working memory.

My research in the field of language acquisition encompasses problems of learnability and development. My recent views on learnability are outlined in Syntactic Carpentry, which proposes that the processor allows language learners to overcome deficiencies in the input that are traditionally interpreted as evidence for an inborn Universal Grammar. My work on developmental phenomena has for the most part focused on Korean and Japanese, but I have also written a book for a general audience on the acquisition of English—How Children Learn Language (Cambridge University Press, 2005).

My research on Korean is relatively wide-ranging. I maintain an ongoing interest in case-related phenomena as well as processing, and I have co-authored a bilingual ‘root dictionary’ of Korean (The Handbook of Korean Vocabulary, University of Hawai‘i Press, 1996) as well as a book on Korean phonology for second language learners (The Sounds of Korean, University of Hawaii Press, 2003).

Where I'll be--upcoming talks

  • Bilingualism in Early Childhood Conference, Chinese University of Hong Kong, December 11 and 12, 2008.
  • Selected Publications (books)

    • Principles of Grammar and Learning. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.
    • Categories and Case: The Sentence Structure of Korean. Philadelphia & Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1991.
    • Handbook of Korean Vocabulary (co-authored with M. Choo). Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1996.
    • Syntactic Development. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997.
    • Studies on Korean in Community Schools (co-edited with D.-J. Lee, S. Cho, M. Lee, & M. Song). Technical Report 22. Honolulu: Second Language Teaching & Curriculum Center, 2000. (This is a collection of reports, written in Korean by my then students, summarizing our research on 'heritage' learners of Korean in the United States.
    • The Sounds of Korean: A Pronunciation Guide (co-authored with M. Choo). Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2003.
    • Contemporary Linguistic Analysis: An Introduction (co-edited with J. Archibald). Sixth edition. Toronto: Pearson-Longman, 2008. (The U.S. edition of this book, co-edited with J. Archibald, M. Aronoff & J. Rees-Miller and entitled Contemporary Linguistics, is published by St. Martin’s Press.)
    • How Children Learn Language. London: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
    • Syntactic Carpentry: An Emergentist Approach to Syntax. Mahwah, N.J.: Erlbaum, 2005.

    The following papers are available for downloading as PDF files.

    Some dissertations that I have supervised:

    • Fahn, Sharon. 1993. The acquisition of Mandarin Chinese BA-constructions.
    • Gibson, Robert. 1993. Palauan causatives and passives: An incorporation analysis.
    • Kao, Rong-Rong. 1993. Grammatical relations and anaphoric structures in Mandarin Chinese.
    • Choo, Miho. 1994. A unified account of null pronouns in Korean.
    • Cho, Sungdai. 1995. On verbal intransitivity in Korean: With special reference to middle constructions.
    • Clausen, Josie. 1995. The taxonomy, semantics, and syntax of Ilokano adverbial clauses.
    • Izutani, Matuzo. 1995. Against a subjacency account of movement and empty categories in Japanese.
    • Kim, Seong-Chan. 1995. The acquisition of wh questions in English and Korean.
    • Yamashita, Yoshie. 1995. The emergence of syntactic categories: Evidence from the acquisition of Japanese.
    • Yoshinaga, Naoko. 1996. Wh-questions: A comparative study of their form and acquisition in English and Japanese.
    • Lim, Kihong. 1998. A split analysis of caki-binding in Korean.
    • Wong, Cathy Sin-Ping. 1998. The acquisition of Cantonese noun phrases.
    • Cho, Sookeun. 1999. The acquisition of relative clauses: Experimental studies on Korean.
    • Suzuki, Takaaki. 1999. Two aspects of Japanese case in acquisition.
    • Lee, Miseon. 2000. On agrammatic deficits in English and Korean.
    • Chang, Jung-hsing. 2001. The syntax of event structure in Chinese.
    • Kim, Kyoungkook. 2001. Korean negation and the licensing condition on negative polarity items.
    • Nakamura, Michiko. 2003. Processing of multiple filler-gap dependencies in Japanese. (co-supervised with Amy Schafer)
    • Tsang, Chi Chung Aaron. 2003. Transitivity in Cantonese.
    • Song, Min Sun. 2003. The first and second language acquisition of negative polarity items in English and Korean.
    • Lee, Sun-Young. 2003. Argument/adjunct asymmetry in the acquisition of inversion in wh-questions by English-speaking children and Korean learners of English: Frequency account vs. structural account.
    • Lee, Mijung. 2004. Resultative constructions in Korean.
    • Timyam, Napasri. 2005. The interaction of linguistic, pragmatic and social factors: The case of datives and ditransitives in Thai. (co-supervised with Ben Bergen)
    • Kim, Jae-Yeon. 2005. L2 acquisition of transitivity alternations and of entailment relations for causatives by Korean speakers of English and English speakers of Korean.
    • Shin, Kyung Sook. 2007. Processing nominal reference in English and Korean: Data from First and Second Language Acquisition.

    Go to the UH-Manoa Linguistics Department Page.


    Last updated on 01/30/08 by Jason Lobel