Research interests / Forschungsschwerpunkte

Since completing my Ph.D. dissertation, I have been interested in languages of the Nakh-Daghestanian family spoken in the Caucasus. I have been involved in a series of projects on various languages doing extensive fieldwork in the highlands of Daghestan. Within these projects, I have been collecting texts for spoken corpora of the languages and accumulating elicited materials for the description.

Two major documentation projects of mine were documentation of Aghul (in collaboration with a colleague and a native speaker linguist) supported by the Department of Linguistics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and documentation of Chirag Dargwa supported by the Endangered Languages Documentation Program at the University of London. Three minor projects aiming primarily at the description were on Nij Udi (Lezgic), Mehweb Dargwa, and Khuduts Dargwa. I also have done comparative work on variation in subject case marking, person agreement, and obligatory control across lects of the Dargwa branch.


Apart from documentation and descriptive work, I have been investigating a number of grammatical phenomena from a typological and theoretical point of view, with implications for diachronic evolution. One line of research relates to argument structure, grammatical functions, and ergativity. In this work, I am interested in valency classes in Nakh-Daghestanian, ergativity, the syntax of non-canonically (dative or locative) marked subjects, mechanisms of gender and person agreement, and case assignment.

The second direction of research is related to the syntax of infinitival and subjunctive constructions in Nakh-Daghestanian. My primary interest here is to explore theoretically challenging control patterns in Nakh-Daghestanian and integrate them into the general theory of control.

The third area of research I have gotten interested in recently is the syntax of indexical shift; that is, constructions where first and second person elements may be interpreted, when embedded under a predicate of speech or thought, not as referring to the actual speaker of the utterance, but as denoting the logophoric center/subject of the speech (thought) predicate ('Johni thinks that Ii am smart'). In particular, I am currently interested in developing a theory of person agreement that would allow us to derive person agreement in Dargwa where it is sensitive both to person hierarchies and to indexical shift.