When I started studying linguistics in 2008, it wasn’t what I expected at all. It turned out that what I had thought I would study was an area of linguistics indeed, but not the one we had in the first couple of semesters. Fortunately, what we did have was generative grammar theory, which turned out to be right up my alley and pretty fascinating in its own right. My main areas of interest at the moment are mostly meta-theoretical, by which I mean what I care about isn’t actual phenomena but the way linguistic theories are constructed – although I especially care about how formal theories are able to capture language variation.

Once I wrote a post about why I like something as boring as grammar. In 2009 I was a research assistant in the “Hierarchy Effects in Kiranti and Broader Algic” research project. My work there was on the Algic languages (see Wikipedia) of indigenous North America, and languages related by geographic nearness and similarity, particularly Karuk (Wikipedia). Some of my work on Karuk can be found on the Hierarchy Effects project wiki, and some is on this page. In 2010 I was a research assistant for the Baure Documentation Project.

My BA degree thesis, submitted in December 2011, was about the Possessor Dative Construction of Modern Hebrew. While writing it, I made a short post with slides from a presentation about it, including a few links that might help someone from outside the field to comprehend it. An edited version of the thesis itself can be downloaded from LingBuzz, and tries to explains things a little more, but is probably still unintelligible if it’s the first work you read in modern formal linguistics.

Some slides and papers are linked below; please send me any critique or comments to michael -at- sappir-dot-net.

My blog posts on linguistics can be found in the Language category.


  • Paper: “Hierarchies and portmanteaux of Karuk pronominal affixes with Distributed Morphology and without hierarchies or portmanteaux”. (PDF) In Linguistische Arbeitsberichte (LAB)no. 88, December 2010.
  • BA thesis: Possessor Datives of Modern Hebrew: A Repel-Based Locally Optimized Raising Analysis. Edited version on LingBuzz. April 2012.

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