Theory is a way of understanding naturally occurring phenomena. A lot of my research is situated within the context of Chomsky's Minimalist Program. Some of my work helps support certain predictions made by the Minimalist Program but most of my other work is relatively theory neutral. In such cases, the choice of theory is less crucial than determining what the right characterization of the facts are. My ultimate goal is uncovering the algorithms of human language, as it can reveal what makes humans, well, human.
My research, more often than not, has a cross-linguistic focus, as I use a lot of data from Tamil (Dravidian), English, and the Bantu languages, such as Kirundi and Lubukusu.
Below, I have described some of my active research threads. As you can see, my research topics involve important several topics in linguistic theory, ranging from anaphoric dependencies, argument structure, case theory, and structure building.
Anti-agreement Anti-agreement is a phenomenon in which the usual phi agreement exhibited by arguments is obviated when that argument is a wh-word or some similar phrase. In this research thread, I investigate anti-agreement using a peculiar phi-agreement alternation that is seen in Tamil clefts. Using this and other related data, I propose an analysis of anti-agreement whereby phi-agreement is obviated when a head fails to copy the features of an agreeing goal. Such an analysis is shown to be able to account for the type of variation with respect to anti-agreement seen language-internally as well as cross-linguistically.
Tough predicates and tough movement In this research thread, I investigate adjectival predicates and their clausal arguments. I currently have a manuscript on tough predicates and what is known as tough movement. Such constructions have remained a puzzle for generative linguists because they have apparently contradictory properties. I provide a novel account of such constructions which also sheds light on adjectival predicates in general, and other constructions such as raising and control structures. The proposed analysis, while solving old puzzles, is shown to lead to new puzzles.
Reflexives and Quantifier Binding In my dissertation (linked here), I investigate the conditions under which reflexives and bound pronouns are licensed in a relatively novel linguistic environment; the copular clause. Such constructions are relatively neglected in the discussion of how reflexives and bound pronouns are licensed, and in my research, I have uncovered several novel generalizations regarding this phenomenon. By making cross-linguistic comparisons, between Tamil, English and other languages, I argue that reflexive and bound pronoun licensing is not dependent on just structure-specific syntactic/ semantic properties but also crucially rely on the lexical specifications of reflexives and bound pronouns.
Inversion, Structure Building and Case I am also interested in several inversion structures, which abound in the Bantu languages of West Africa. In such structures, the logical subject occurs in a lower position than its usual sentence-initial position. Such constructions are also accompanied with special discourse properties. These constructions thus give us an insight into how pragmatic requirements can affect how structures are build and how nominals are licensed. I investigate such constructions in Lubukusu and Kirundi, with the help of Justine Sikuku (Lubukusu) and Ernest Nshemezimana (Kirundi).
You can find some recent manuscripts that are a result of my research directly below. Further below, I have a list of recent talks, handouts and papers.