some words have a temper –
particularly verbs: they’re the proudest –
adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs
[humpty dumpty to alice]
I am a professor of English Language and Linguistics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I teach courses on English syntax and grammar in use. Additionally, I am affiliated with the German Department.
In my research and teaching I explore the regularity of structure (grammar) and the quirkiness of individual words. The “temper” of English verbs – the relationship between their meaning and their behavior in syntax – is the focus of my research. Other research areas include the history of scientific writing, genres of Internet communication, and linguistic prescriptivism. My most recent book publications are Deconstructing the English Passive (2009) and Syntactic Variation and Genre (2010), both published by Mouton de Gruyter. I am currently working on a conversation-based study of the grammar of speakers with dementia and on a book that pairs modern prescriptivist ideas about grammar with corpus-based studies of selected syntactic phenomena (working title “Bad Grammar”).