Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts
Michael T. Putnam

Michael T. Putnam

Professor of German and Linguistics
Director of Linguistics Program
Associate Director of the Center for Language Science



Research Group: 

Morphology & Syntax Syndicate @ Penn State

The primary goal of our research group is to contribute to the building and refining of a precise theory of the morphology and syntax of natural languages. Our research focuses on core aspects of morphological and syntactic theory and their interaction with other aspects of grammar, such as: the morphology-syntax, syntax-semantics, and morphology-phonology interface, prosody, pragmatics, and language processing.

Research Interests: 

I have a profound interest in how the general architecture of cognition intersects with grammatical knowledge and performance biases. I am a formal/theoretical linguist who uses theoretical models to better understand the properties of human language. I am primarily interested in the division of labor between morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics in monolingual and bi/multilingual populations. The primary empirical focus of my research is on Germanic languages and dialects past and present, with special emphasis on heritage and minority languages.

Sample publications:
The linguistic diversity of German: Sociolinguistic and structural variation in Europe and the diaspora. (with Joshua Bousquette, Josh Brown, & Joseph Salmons). under contract. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
An introduction to Language Attrition: linguistic, social, and cognitive perspectives. under contract. London: Routledge.
2020   Passives and middles in Mainland Scandinavian: Microvariation through exponency.[Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs.] (with Antonio Fábregas). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
2020   Unbounded dependency constructions: Theoretical and experimental perspectives. [Oxford Surveys in Syntax and Morphology]. (with Rui Chaves). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
2020   The Cambridge Handbook of Germanic Linguistics. (edited with B. Richard Page). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
2013   The structural design of language. (with Thomas S. Stroik). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Articles & book chapters:
2021 Mismatches at the syntax-semantics interface: The case of non-finite complementation in American-Norwegian. (with Åshild Søfteland). First View. Nordic Journal of Linguistics
2021 Overextension in Gottscheerisch (negative) imperatives: Proclisis at the edge of the first phase. (with Andrew D. Hoffman). The Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics 24(2): 185-219.
2021 Addressing challenges in formal research on moribund heritage languages: A path forward. (with Roberta D’Alessandro & David A. Natvig). Frontiers in Psychology, 12:700126.
2020 How wide the divide? – Theorizing ‘constructions’ in generative and usage-based frameworks. (with Antonio Fábregas & Matthew Carlson). Frontiers in Psychology, 12:601303.
2020   Redefining language death: Evidence from moribund grammars. (with Joshua Bousquette). Language Learning 70(S1): 185-228
2019   Language attrition and the Feature Reassembly Hypothesis. (with Silvia Perez-Cortes & Liliana Sánchez). In The Oxford Handbook of Language Attrition (ed. M. Schmid & B. Köpke), Oxford: Oxford University Press: 18-24.
2019   Derivational complexity vs. transfer effects: Long-distance-wh-movement in heritage and L2 grammars. (with Holger Hopp & Nora Vosburg). Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism 9(3): 341-375.
2016   Co-activation in bilingual grammars: A computational account of code mixing. (with Matt Goldrick & Lara Schwarz). Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 19(5): 857-876.
2013   What’s so incomplete about incomplete acquisition? A prolegomenon to modeling heritage language grammars. (with Liliana Sánchez). Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism 3(4): 478-508.