I am currently Senior Lecturer in Language Change at the University of York. Prior to that, I was a lecturer at Newcastle University, and I remain an affiliate of Newcastle's Centre for Behaviour and Evolution (CBE). Even before that, I worked for the National Science Foundation at the University of Iceland, where my collaborators and I built a syntactically parsed, diachronic corpus of Icelandic, The Icelandic Parsed Historical Corpus (IcePaHC).
My PhD is from the University of Pennsylvania, and my BA is from Stanford University. I grew up in San Francisco, California, USA.
My research focuses on both empirical and theoretical work concerning language change over time, and what this can tell us about: linguistic structure, human cognition more generally, and cognition more generally. Much of my past work has focused on syntactic change in Germanic, but I also like phonology, other language families, and to look at language in the wide context of the evolution of complex animal cognition and behaviours.
My most current research focuses on the application of Information Theory to language, particularly language change in progress, and on the relationship between information spread in language and the declarative memory processes of recollection and familiarity. My ongoing research forms part of our ESRC-funded CAIL project: Constraints on the Adaptiveness of Information in Language.
Constraints on the Adaptiveness of Information in Language (CAIL). This project investigates applications of information theory to syntactic change, the evolution of the human language faculty, and language use in the presence of noise (including memory-related interference). You can read more on the project website (https://cail-project.github.io/) and in the project’s publications.