Department of Linguistics
Office: Moore Hall, Room 564
[The picture to the left was taken on the Korean island of Udo.]
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 four areas—syntactic theory, language acquisition, Korean, and heritage languages.
My current work on syntactic theory focuses on emergentism—the idea that the properties of language reflect 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. This idea is also pursued in several of the papers that can be downloaded from this site.
My research in the field of language acquisition encompasses problems of learnability and development. My views on these matters 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. I have also written a book for a general audience on the acquisition of English—How Children Learn Language (Cambridge University Press, 2005), as well as various technical papers available for downloading from this site.
My research on Korean is relatively wide-ranging, beginning with Categories and Case (1989). I maintain an ongoing interest in case-related phenomena as well as processing and acquisition, 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).
Finally, I have a strong interest in the acquisition and maintenance of ‘heritage languages’—a broad category that includes both the family languages of immigrants to America (e.g., Korean) and endangered indigenous languages around the world. I am particularly devoted to the preservation and revitalization of Jejueo, the language of Korea's Jeju Island.
Where I'll be--upcoming talks
February 26 - March 1, 2015: Fourth International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation, Honolulu
- Handbook of Language Emergence. (co-edited with Brian MacWhinney). Boston: Wiley. 2015
- Syntactic Carpentry: An Emergentist Approach to Syntax. Mahwah, N.J.: Erlbaum, 2005.
- How Children Learn Language. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
- Contemporary Linguistic Analysis: An Introduction (co-edited with J. Archibald). Seventh edition. Toronto: Pearson-Longman, 2011. (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.)
- The Sounds of Korean: A Pronunciation Guide (co-authored with M. Choo). Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2003.
- 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.)
- Syntactic Development. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997.
- Handbook of Korean Vocabulary (co-authored with M. Choo). Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1996.
- Categories and Case: The Sentence Structure of Korean. Philadelphia & Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1991.
- Principles of Grammar and Learning. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.
Papers available for downloading as PDF files.
If you've come here to find out about emergentism or emergentist approaches to language, the following papers, which were written for a general audience, may be helpful:
- Video from the University of Amsterdam of my recent talk on development at the EuroSLA Language Learning Roundtable:
- ‘Emergentism.’ This brief overview of emergentism appeared in 2010 in The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the Language Sciences, edited by Patrick Hogan (pp. 274-76). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
- ‘The emergentist program.’ This selective survey of emergentist research on language appeared in 2008 in Lingua 118 (pp. 447-64), a special issue edited by Roger Hawkins and devoted to an examination of emergentist and UG-based work on language acquisition.
- ‘An emergentist approach to syntax.’ This paper, first written in early 2001, summarizes many of the points developed in more detail in my 2005 book, Syntactic Carpentry (Erlbaum). The paper was subsequently revised and updated for publication in 2010, appearing in The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Analysis (pp. 257-83), edited by H. Narrog & B. Heine and published by Oxford University Press. It is somewhat more technical than the two preceding items, but considers a broader range of issues.
- ‘Does emergentism have a chance?' This is my plenary talk to the 32nd Boston University Conference on Language Development (November 2007) as it appeared in the Proceedings. It focuses almost entirely on the problem of first language acquisition.
- ‘Interview on emergentism.’ This interview, conducted by Mei Yang of South China University of Technology, appeared in Chinese in The Foreign Modern Language Quarterly, 32.4, 121-28 in 2009.
Other papers, many with an emergentist focus:
- ‘Anaphora and the case for emergentism’ This chapter, which is to appear in the Handbook of Language Emergence (co-edited by Brian MacWhinney; published by Wiley in early 2015) presents an emergentist analysis of several core properties of anaphora.
- ‘Processing determinism’ This paper, to appear in Language Learning 65 in early 2015, outlines an emergentist, processing-based approach to understanding linguistic development.
- ‘An emergentist approach to development’ To appear in 2015 in J. Wright (ed.), the International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2nd ed.
- ‘Frequency and processing’ to appear in late 2014 in a special issue of the Journal of Child Language.
- ‘The price of politeness: Subject honorification and processing’ This chapter, which appeared in Studies in Korean Linguistics and Language Pedagogy (co-edited by S.-O. Sohn, S. Cho & S-H. You and published by Korea University Press in 2013) discusses the role of processing in explaining certain contrasts in the Korean system of honorification.
- ‘The illusion of language acquisition’ This keynote article (Approaches to Bilingualism 3, 253-85, 2013) outlines a processing-based theory of language acquisition built around the idea that development is best understood as a side-effect of the processor's attempts to improve its own functioning.
- ‘Facts and issues: Response to the commentaries’ This is the published response to the various commentaries on my article, 'The illusion of language acquisition,' which appeared in Approaches to Bilingualism 3 in 2013.
- ‘Facts and issues: Response to the commentaries–Long version’ This is the longer, unpublished version of my response to the commentaries on 'The illusion of language acquisition;' it contains a section (section 4) not found in the published version.
- ‘Processing and language acquisition: Reflexive pronouns in English and Korean’ This is a revised version of an invited talk to the linguistics program at Sogang University in 2012. It appeared in 2013 in Enewa cengpo (Language and Information) 19, 33-59.
- ‘Reflexive pronouns in second language acquisition’ To appear in Second Language. This paper was first presented as an invited talk to the 2012 meeting of the Japanese Second Language Association (J-SLA).
- ‘Three factors in the design and acquisition of language.’ Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science 3, 493-99. This paper, published in 2012, discusses recent developments in minimalism and their relationship to the emergentist thesis for language, with special attention to the notions of computational efficiency and processing cost.
- ‘Language acquisition without an acquisition device.’ Language Teaching 45, 116-30 (2012). This is a simplified and heavily abridged version of my plenary talk to the 2010 Second Language Research Forum, held at the University of Maryland.
- ‘Relative clauses: Processing and acquisition.’ In Evan Kidd (ed.), The acquisition of relative clauses: Processing, typology and function, 13-38. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 2011.
- ‘Interfaces and processing.’ Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism 1, 63-66 (2011).
- ‘Fundamental universals of language.’ This is a slightly expanded version of a paper that appeared in 2010 in Lingua 120, pp. 2707-12.
- ‘An emergentist perspective on heritage language acquisition' (co-authored with Hye-Young Kwak, On-Soon Lee, & Miseon Lee) Studies in Second Language Acquisition 33, 223-45 (2011).
- ‘Practical and theoretical issues in the study of partial language acquisition’ (with On-Soon Lee & Jinhwa Lee) Heritage Language Journal 8.3, 23-40 (2011).
- ‘Processing, pragmatics, and scope in Korean and English’ (with Miseon Lee, Hye-Young Kwak, & Sunyoung Lee). To appear in the Proceedings of the 19th Japanese-Korean Linguistics Conference. Stanford, CA: Center for the Study of Language and Information.
- ‘A psycholinguistic tool for the assessment of language loss’ (with A. Schafer, J. Perla, O.-S. Lee, & J. Weiting). This paper outlines a simple response-time tool for assessing language strength in bilinguals, with a view to diagnosing the potential for language loss both in individuals and in communities. It appeared in 2009 in Language Documentation and Conservation 3, 100-12 and can be downloaded at <http://nflrc.hawaii.edu/ldc/pastissues.html>.
- ‘Emergentism and Second Language Acquisition.’ This paper, co-authored with Miseon Lee and Hye-Young Kwak, offers on overview of recent emergentist work on second language acquisition, including new work on quantifier scope. It appeared in 2009 in W. Ritchie & T. Bhatia (eds.), Handbook of Second Language Acquistion, pp. 69-88. (Emerald Press).
- ‘Want-to contraction in second language acquisition: An emergentist approach.’ (with Michiko Nakamura & Yaskuko Ito): Lingua 118, 478-98 (2008)
- ‘Innateness, Universal Grammar, and emergentism.’ Lingua 118, 620-31 (2008)
- ‘Language without grammar.’ This is the revised version of my plenary talk to the 2003 annual meeting of the American Association for Applied Linguistics in Washington, D.C. It appeared in the Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition (pp. 139-67), edited by N. Ellis & P. Robinson and published by Routledge in 2008.
- ‘Some issues in Korean syntax and processing: Rethinking scope’ (with Sunyoung Lee). Invited talk presented at the sixteenth meeting of the International Circle of Korean Linguistics (ICKL) held at Cornell University, June 2008.
- ‘The syntax of quantification in SLA: An emergentist approach.’ This is my plenary talk to the 2006 GASLA conference; it can be downloaded at http://www.lingref.com/cpp/gasla/8/index.html. It also appears inProceedings of the 8th Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition Conference (GASLA 2006): The Banff Conference,, ed. by M. O’Brien, C. Shea, & J. Archibald. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press, 2007, 98-113.’
- ‘A mapping theory of agrammatic comprehension deficits.’ (with Miseon Lee) Brain and Language 92, 91-100 (2005).
- ‘The syntax of idioms.’ Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 16, 279-312 (1998).
- ‘Brow raise in American Sign Language: An emergentist account.’ This paper, written in 2010 and revised in 2011, outlines a possible processing-based explanation for a phenomenon central to the syntax of ASL.
Papers specifically on Korean:
‘The interpretation of inverse scope in Korean.’ (with Sunyoung Lee) Talk presented at the fifteenth meeting of the International Circle of Korean Linguistics (ICKL) held at the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara, June 2006.
‘Classifiers and learnability: The role of recasts.’ (with Sunyoung Lee) Frontiers of Korean Language Acquisition, ed. by Jae Jung Song. Saffron Books: London, 2006,127-37.
- ‘Rethinking structure and case.’ This is the text of my 2004 talk to the annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of Korea; it is virtually identical to the version that appears in the conference proceedings.
- ‘A linear computational system for Korean: Case and structure.’ This paper is also available in Perspectives on Korean Case and Case Marking, ed. by Byung-Soo Park & Jong-Bok Kim. Seoul: Thaehaksa, 2004, 3-20.
- ‘Words and Sounds.’ This invited talk to the International Association for the Promotion of Korean as an International Language (2001) discusses two books that I co-authored that are of special interest to Korean language professionals.
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.
- Hwang, Hui-hua (Jessie). 2008. Serial verb constructions in Chinese.
- Lee, Sunyoung. 2009. Interpreting scope ambiguity in first and second language processing: Universal quantifiers and negation.
- Kwak, Hye-Young. 2010. Scope interpretation in first and second language acquisition: Numeral quantifiers and negation.
- Hunter, Hatfield. 2010. Temporal expectancy and the experience of statistics in language processing.
- Kim, So-Young. 2011. Focus particles at syntactic, semantic and pragmatic interfaces: The acquisition of only and even in English.
- Kang, Sang-Gu. 2011. English attrition in Korean-English bilingual children.
- Hattori, Ryoko. 2011. Preverbal particles in Pingelapese: A language of Micronesia.
- Kim, Jinsook. 2012. Comprehension of elided phrases in Korean and English: VP-ellipsis, null object constructions, and one-substitution.
- Choe, Jinsun. 2012. Children seem to know raising: Raising and intervention in child language. (co-supervised with Kamil Deen)
- Ko, Insung. 2012. The articulation of Korean coronal obstruents: Data from heritage speakers and second language learners. (co-supervised with Ho-Min Sohn)
- Kim, Chae-Eun. 2013. Asymmetries in the production of relative clauses: First and second language acquisition.
Last updated on 11/18/12