Phil Branigan

Table of Contents

Phil Branigan

Head and Associate Professor

Generalities and contact info

Office: SN-3050C
Phone: (709) 864-3017
Fax: (709) 864-4000

E-mail: <branigan at mun dot ca>

Department of Linguistics
Memorial University
St. John's, NL
Canada A1B 3X9

Office hours

For the Winter 2014 term, my scheduled teaching office hours are the following.

Tuesday 2pm-3pm
Friday 11am-12pm

To see me outside of these times, just email or call me.


Current courses

In the Winter 2014, I will be teaching Linguistics 4100 Morphosyntactic Analysis (which is also Linguistics 6100).

Graduate supervision

I've had the privilege of supervising some very fine graduate students, as the following list demonstrates.

  • MA theses

    Li Li Ma. 1995. Duration and Frequency NPs and the Chinese Verb Phrase.

    Chantal Jourdaan. 1995. The structure of partitive NPs in French. (MPhil thesis paper.)

    Douglas Wharram. 1996. In the Event of an Event: a Minimalist Account of Subjects.

    Kenneth Matthews. 2000. The Syntax of Object Shift in Icelandic.

    Jane Bannister. 2004. A description of preverb and particle usage in Innu-aimûn narrative.

    Angelina Bursey. 2004. Acquisition of Wh-movement in L1 German.

    Will Oxford. 2007. Towards a Grammar of Particles in Innu-aimun.

    David Bowden. 2010. On Quirky Oblique Subjects and ECM Complementation in Icelandic.

    Daiho Kitaoka. In progress.

  • Ph.D theses

    Julie Brittain. 2000. The Distribution of the Conjunct Verb Form in Western Naskapi and Related Morpho-Syntactic Issues. (Dr.~M. MacKenzie was co-supervisor.)

    Ahmad Assiri. 2011. Arabic Adjectival Phrases: An Agree-Based Approach.

    Osama Omari. 2011. Grammatical Subjects of Jordanian Arabic: Syntactic and Discourse Functions.



Most of my active research falls into two broad categories: syntactic theory and Algonquian linguistics. They aren't mutually exclusive, but when I'm doing hard-core theory, as likely as not I'm looking into issues of A-bar movement in Germanic languages (including English). Much of my research in this area over the past few years is consolidated in Provocative Syntax. I'm continuing on with my investigations in this model of morphosyntax. Doug Wharram and I have begun to study how syntactic "provocation" and semantics interact in the interpretation of Inuktitut indefinites.

When I'm focused on Algonquian, I'm often investigating the factors which control word order and agreement in Innu-aimûn. Much of my work on Algonquian is done with my Memorial colleagues: Marguerite MacKenzie, Julie Brittain, and Carrie Dyck.

Together with Paul De Decker and Gerard Van Herk, I've recently started examining syntactic variation in Newfoundland English, in hopes of finding a way to integrate the generative modeling of syntactic derivations into a description of the non-linguistic forces which influence some aspects of speakers' language use.

I've also published work on the nature of ergativity (with Jonathan Bobaljik) and on quotative inversion (with Chris Collins).


  • Cyclicity and the Approach the Probe principle

    This new paper illustrates how a phrase can be moved to a position underneath the triggering probe, under the right circumstances. Things this allows us to explain include: inner object shift, word order in French and other transitive causatives, English root wh-questions and related verb-second constructions in other Germanic languages, and affix hopping.

  • On certain differences between Spanish and Icelandic

    Another new paper exploring the application of the Approach the Probe principle. This one develops an analysis of the correlation which Angel Gallego has identified between Scandinavian object shift and VOS word order in Western Romance languages.

  • Macroparameter Learnability: An Algonquian Case Study

    This is a draft of something I've been working on recently. The title says it all, really.

Selected publications

Provocative Syntax. MIT Press. January 2011.

"Eccentric Agreement and Multiple Case-Checking." (Co-author, with Jonathan Bobaljik.) In Ergativity, edited by Alana Johns, Diane Massam and Juvenal Ndayiragije. Kluwer. 2006.

"Balancing Prosody and Syntax in the Algonquian Verb Complex." (Co-author, with Julie Brittain and Carrie Dyck.) Proceedings of the 36th Algonquian Conference. February 2005.

"Altruism, A-bar movement and object agreement in Innu-aimûn." (Co-author, with Marguerite Mackenzie.) Linguistic Inquiry 33.3, 2002.

"Binding Relations and the nature of pro in Innu-aimûn." Proceedings of NELS 29. (Co-author, with Marguerite Mackenzie). 2000.

"Binding effects and covert movement." Linguistic Inquiry 30.3, 2000.

"Quotative Inversion." (co-author, with Chris Collins), Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 15, 1997.

"Verb-second and the A-bar syntax of subjects." Studia Linguistica 50.1, p. 50-79. 1996.

Some links I like

I find the web sites below useful, interesting, intriguing… You may like them too. Or not. Whatever.

  • XKCD - is there better humour than this?
  • Linguist List - a newsgroup for linguists
  • Lingbuzz - the major archive for recent papers in generative linguistics
  • Slashdot - a newsgroup for nerds
  • Z-net - a web center for progressive political thought

Created: 2014-01-08 Wed 16:36

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