Since 2010, much of my work has focused on Uzbek, a Turkic language spoken in Central Asia. Though Uzbek has a very healthy speaker population, it is both under-described and under-investigated. The scarcity of generative work on Uzbek and more generally on Turkic languages spoken in the former Soviet Republics stems in part from the fact that, until fairly recently, the contact language for interacting with speakers was Russian. Although this is changing slowly, it has meant that little attention has been paid within generative work to a whole host of Turkic languages which offer, among other things, rich opportunities for investigations of micro-variation.
My goals are to provide a fuller picture of the details of Uzbek, and to understand how those details bear on theoretical questions that are of broad interest both within and beyond Turkic. Recent investigations involve the structure of sluicing-like constructions, genitive case and agreement in nominalized clauses, and verbal and non-verbal predicate formation processes.
Because Uzbekistan is surrounded (though not exclusively) by other Turkic-speaking nations, regional variants often conform in some respects to the Turkic languages spoken in neighboring countries. In the course of my investigations I have been pleased and excited to find, in addition to the usual phonological and lexical variation, a good amount of syntactic micro-variation across Uzbek speakers. In addition to the regional differences, there are also signs of syntactic change: younger speakers' grammars appear to differ significantly from older speakers'. I try to document (and make sense of) these patterns whenever I come across them, keeping in mind the longer-term goal of trying to understand the consequences of variation and syntactic change for our theories of syntactic and morphological structure-building.
I'm deeply grateful to the native Uzbek speakers that I've had the pleasure of working with over the years (in Tashkent, Bukhara, Moscow, New York and California) --- for their thoughtfulness in matters concerning the Uzbek language, their friendship, and their hospitality.
For some of my larger projects, I have collected datasets that focus on particular phenomena, sometimes involving variation in speaker judgments and numerous factors interacting to affect those judgments. I am in the process of archiving these datasets, along with some minimal annotation, and making them publicly available via the Stanford Digital Repository. Here is a (slowly growing) list of pointers to those files:
- Uzbek -mi inversion
- Uzbek cleft clauses and sluicing-like constructions
- Uzbek case, agreement and differential argument marking patterns
The Hellman Fellows Fund supported much of this fieldwork, especially early in my time at Stanford.