Past work and drafts

I work mostly on 'anti-lexicalist' or 'neo-constructionist' syntax, with a special interest in Hagit Borer's approach, the 'Exo-Skeletal Model' (XSM). The theory is closely related to the more mainstream program initiated by Distributed Morphology, but differs in some details. In particular, DM often allows a semantic component that manipulates syntax (in 'alloseme selection'). I am attracted by the idea that the syntax builds up unambiguous formulae, interpreted mechanistically by the semantic system, completely independent of world-knowledge and context. This is related to philosophical concerns about semantic minimalism.

I also work on quantification in cognition at large, following much work that began at UMD. This psycholinguistic approach to quantification lends itself to a picture of meanings that are firmly 'inside the head', providing, again, mechanistic, context-insensitive instructions for thought. Following Paul Pietroski, I think of the meaning of a sentence as something like a recipe for a thought. It makes you think of the world in one way, rather than another. This also interacts with polysemy in interesting ways, as recipes can be neutral between certain things, but explicit about others.

In summary, the way I hope the world turns out to be is as follows: the syntax generates formulae that, without further editing, are assigned an interpretation part-by-part and by rule. Semantics is invariant, blindly composing the output of the syntax, not paying attention to world-knowledge or context. Much of the work traditionally assigned to composition semantics, then, belongs with syntax or with pragmatics.


A handout for a talk discussing the existential closure of events. I argue that, while event variables are introduced with verbs, it is higher in the sentence that they are bound by a quantifier. (Presented at The Meaning Meeting. Comments welcome.)


An overview of Paul Pietroski's book, 'Conjoining Meanings', written for proselytizing purposes: 'Introducing Internalism'

BA Thesis - Are there linguistically guaranteed inferences? Semantic atomism versus contemporary syntactic theory 


During the COVID-19 pandemic, I was President of the Oxford University Linguistics Society. I organized our events: interviews with a number of interviews with linguists and philosophers of language, conducted mostly over Zoom. I have linked here the ones I organized.

Interviews (in alphabetical order):

Hagit Borer [link]

Emma Borg [link]

Robyn Carston [link]

Noam Chomsky [link]

Janet Dean Fodor [link]

John Goldsmith [link]

Heidi Harley [link]

Norbert Hornstein [link]

Richard Kayne [link]

Angelika Kratzer [link]

Aditi Lahiri [link]

Paul Pietroski [link]

David Poeppel [link]

Tony Thorne [link]