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I am an Associate Professor of English linguistics in the Department of Language and Literature at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Before I came to Trondheim, I did my PhD in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Maryland in the United States under the supervision of Professor Paul Pietroski. And before that, I did an undergraduate degree in linguistics and Nordic languages at the University of Oslo in Norway.
I study how words are put together to sentences and what the meanings of those sentences are. So far I have particularly been concerned with how to account for certain constraints that human languages exhibit on displacement (e.g., why you can say "What did John say that Peter wrote?" but you cannot say "What did John kick the ball because Mary played?") and with how we can give a ‘simple’ theory of how structures and meanings combine to yield utterances.
My recent book, Phrase structure and argument Structure: a case study of the syntax-semantics interface, presents a new theory of the syntax-semantics interface. It is an extensively rewritten version of my PhD dissertation Without Specifiers: Phrase Structure and Events. Specifically, I argue that a theory of phrase structure that does not make use of specifiers and a theory using Neo-Davidsonian logical forms offer exactly the right match. This, in turn, raises issues about the syntax and the semantics components, and what we mean by ‘simplicity’ and ‘transparency’.
I am also interested in the history of modern grammatical theory, and how particular frameworks differ and how and why they evolved. In addition, I have a deep interest in fundamental philosophical questions as they pertain to linguistics. These include: What is the capacity for language? How does it arise in the individual? How is it put to use? More specifically, I focus on how to characterize linguistic knowledge and whether such knowledge involves notions such as truth and reference when it comes to the meaning of sentences.