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Phil Branigan

Associate Professor

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

I was first introduced to Linguistics at the University of Ottawa, where I completed an MA in 1988 under the supervision of Paul Hirschb├╝hler. In 1992, I obtained my Ph.D at MIT, where my supervisor was David Pesetsky. The other members of my Ph.D committee were Howard Lasnik and Noam Chomsky. I got a job at Memorial University, in St. John's, Newfoundland soon after, and I've been enjoying life here ever since. Weather aside, it's a great place to live and work.

I am a syntactician, so I obsess over how different languages use different word orders and inflections to express similar ideas. Most of my active research falls into two broad categories: syntactic theory and Algonquian linguistics. They aren't mutually exclusive, but when I'm being a "pure" syntactician, I'm often looking at word order in the left periphery of clauses in European languages. And when I'm focused on Algonquian, I'm often trying to figure out how the complex morphology arises from deeper universal syntactic patterns. Much of my work on Algonquian is done with my MUN colleagues: Marguerite MacKenzie, Julie Brittain, and Carrie Dyck. I'm a collaborator in the Julie-led Chisasibi Child Language Acquisition Study.

Recently, my examination of Algonquian verbal morphology has also led me to pay attention to the more abstract question of what syntactic parameters are, and how learnability issues are manifested in languages of the Algonquian type. This, in turn, is provoking me to examine how specific marked transformations such as multiple and long head-movement are employed to different extents in different languages and language families, such as Slavic and Semitic.

As a bit of a fun side study, Doug Wharram and I have recently worked together examining how labeling operations and quantificational semantics interact in the interpretation of Inuktitut indefinites. I've also published work on the nature of ergativity (with Jonathan Bobaljik) and on quotative inversion (with Chris Collins).