Other News

Bertolino, Nguyen, Petrosino | Isabelle Y. Liberman Award

We are pleased to announce that three of our graduate students have been recognized and awarded stipends for this year’s Isabelle Y. Liberman Award, which is intended to recognize and encourage young researchers who are investigating topics relating to Isabelle Y. Liberman’s interests.

Emma Nguyen received the award for her work on The link between lexical semantic features and children’s comprehension of English be-passives”, a paper submitted to Language Acquisition with Lisa Pearl.

Additionally, Karina Gomes Bertolino and Roberto Petrosino have been named finalists for the award.

Congratulations to all three!

Thornton Defense

Abigail Thornton successfully defended her dissertation titled “Morphophonological & Morphosyntactic Domains” on May 14th in our first doctoral defense since moving online.

Congratulations, Abbie!

Dr. Thornton with her committee:


Carstens to join UConn Linguistics

We are thrilled to announce that Vicki Carstens will join the faculty of the Department of Linguistics as Professor of Syntax in Fall 2020! She comes to us from Southern Illinois University where she is Professor & Chair of Linguistics.

Prof. Carstens is a renowned generative syntactician who has worked extensively on word order and agreement cross-linguistically.  She is a skilled, experienced fieldworker and an expert on African languages with a focus on Bantu.

Check out her research here.

And find out more about her from her 2016 Featured Linguist profile on Linguist List.

Alumni Research Awards

We are pleased to announce the recipients of our first annual Alumni Research Awards.  Through this program the department awards up to $1000 annually to graduate students to support research projects.  These awards were made possible through the generous donations of alumni from our Ph.D. program.  This year’s awards go to:

Sarah Asinari & Si Kai Lee, “Verbal Agreement Patterns in Qaraqalpaq”

Shengyun Gu, “Weak hand spread in the prosody of Shanghai Sign Language”

Sad news: Samuel David Epstein

We are very sad to relate the news that Sam Epstein died on November 29, 2019 at his home.  Epstein was the Marilyn J. Shatz Collegiate Professor of Linguistics and Cognitive Science at the University of Michigan. He obtained his Ph.D. from the Department of Linguistics at the University of Connecticut in 1987, writing a thesis titled, “Empty Categories and Their Antecedents.”  Epstein went on to become one of the most influential figures in modern syntactic theory. He produced a number of ground-breaking works which are considered to be classics of the field. This for example holds for his 1999 paper “Un-principled Syntax: The Derivation of Syntactic Relations”. C-command has always been considered to be one of the most fundamental syntactic relations. Until that paper, no one really knew why, which left the whole field in a rather uncomfortable position: there was an ever present relation that fundamentally affected almost all syntactic phenomena and we did not understand why that was the case. In the paper in question, Epstein proposed an amazingly elegant and simple deduction of c-command which also explained why c-command is so pervasive. It was, and still is, an example of syntactic theorizing at its best. That paper and Epstein’s work more generally (e.g., books A Derivational Approach to Syntactic Relations and Derivations in Minimalism) led to a fundamental change in the syntactic theory, with derivationality and derivational mechanisms being emphasized over representational mechanisms. The field simply would not have been the same without Epstein.