Sie sind hier: FRIAS School of Language & … Fellows Prof. Dr. Joan Bresnan

Prof. Dr. Joan Bresnan

Allgemeine und englische Linguistik
Stanford University
Visiting fellow
Juni 2012

 Vergangene FRIAS-Aufenthalte

  • Juni 2012
  • April 2011 - März 2012
  • Juni/Juli 2009
  • Okt./Nov.2009
  • März 2010





Joan Bresnan, Ph.D. MIT 1972, is Sadie Dernham Patek Professor in Humanities Emerita at Stanford University and a senior researcher at Stanford’s Center for the Study of Language and Information, where she has established her Spoken Syntax Lab. A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow and past president of the Linguistics Society of America, she was also the Edward Sapir Professor of the 2007 Institute of the Linguistic Society of America, a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and a Guggenheim Fellow. She has been Principal Investigator of a number of National Science Foundation grants, currently a grant for “The Dynamics of Probabilistic Grammar” awarded by the NSF program in Human Social Dynamics. Her 40 years of linguistic publications have addressed topics in English syntax, the architecture and psychological reality of grammar, comparative Bantu morphosyntax, syntactic typology, and variation. She was one of the original developers of lexical-functional grammar, a contributor to optimality-theoretic syntax, and is a leading researcher in quantitative investigations in theoretical syntax. A common theme in her work is bringing many kinds of data to bear on questions about the nature of higher-level linguistic structures.




Selected Publications


  • 1982 Kaplan, Ronald and Joan Bresnan, “Lexical-Functional Grammar: A Formal System for Gram- matical Representation,” in J. Bresnan, ed., The Mental Representation of Grammatical Relations, Chapter 4, The MIT Press (1982) (pp. 173–281).
  • 1987 Bresnan, Joan and Sam A. Mchombo, “Topic, Pronoun, and Agreement in Chicheˆwa,” Language LXIII.4 (December 1987) (pp. 741–782).
  • 1996 Austin, Peter and Joan Bresnan, “Nonconfigurationality in Australian Aboriginal Languages,” Natural Language & Linguistic Theory. 14 (pp. 215–268).
  • 2001 Bresnan, Joan. Lexical-Functional Syntax, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, (446 pp.).
  • 2001 Bresnan, Joan, Shipra Dingare and Christopher D. Manning. “Soft Constraints Mirror Hard Constraints: Voice and Person in English and Lummi,” in Proceedings of the LFG ’01 Conference, University of Hong Kong. On-line, CSLI Publications:
  • 2006 Hay, Jennifer and Joan Bresnan. “Spoken Syntax: The Phonetics of giving a hand in New Zealand English”. The Linguistic Review, special issue on Exemplar-Based approaches in Linguistics, 23: 321–349.
  • 2007 Bresnan, Joan, Anna Cueni, Tatiana Nikitina, and R. Harald Baayen. “Predicting the Dative Alternation.” In Cognitive Foundations of Interpretation, ed. by G. Bouma, I. Kraemer and J. Zwarts. Royal Netherlands Academy of Science, Amsterdam, pp. 69–94.
  • 2007 Bresnan, Joan, Ashwini Deo, and Devyani Sharma. “Typology in Variation: A Probabilistic Approach to be and n’t in The Survey of English Dialects”, English Language and Linguistics, 11(2): 301–46.
  • 2007 “Is Syntactic Knowledge Probabilistic? Experiments with the English Dative Alternation. In Roots: Linguistics in search of its evidential base, Series: Studies in Generative Grammar, ed. by Sam Featherston and Wolfgang Sternefeld. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 75–96.



FRIAS Research Projekt

Predicting syntax in space and time.

Probabilistic models of corpus data can be used both to predict higher-level grammatical choices and to quantify changes in such choices across different speaker groups in geographic or social space and in historical time.  The present project will combine these uses of probabilistic models with a third: to measure and compare the syntactic predictive capacities of speakers of different varieties of the same language in parallel psycholinguistic tasks.  The aim is to establish theoretical and empirical links between variation at the levels of the group and the internalized linguistic knowledge of the individual, as developed in exemplar-based models of grammar.

Using resources available through FRIAS, we will compare syntactic word order choices in two semantically conditioned constructions of English---the dative alternation and the genitive alternation---in historical time (1650--1990) and space (across America and Britain).  The directions of change discovered will provide the anchoring contextfor studies of contemporary variation at the group and individual levels in post-Colonial English varieties in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States.