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You are here: Home / People / Michael T. Putnam

Michael T. Putnam

Michael T. Putnam

Associate Professor of German and Linguistics



Lab Affiliation: 

Language Contact & Change

The research conducted in our lab group seeks to explore the developmental trajectory of the grammars of unbalanced bi/multilinguals, i.e., heritage language speakers, across the lifespan. We employ a wide range of multi-modal methodologies (i.e., sociolinguistic interviews, off-line elicitation and judgment tasks, on-line psycholinguistic experiments, etc.) in our ongoing research. Due to the fact that many of the informants that we work with represent the last highly proficient generation of a given vernacular, cognitive aging is an additional attribute that factors into our research. The results of our research to date forces us to revisit traditional narratives of language acquisition, maintenance, loss, and attrition.

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:
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:
2019   Redefining language death: Evidence from moribund grammars. (with Joshua Bousquette). Language Learning. First View: https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12367
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.

2014   The emergence of middle voice structures with and without agents. (with Antonio Fábregas). The Linguistic Review 31(2): 193-240.

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.