Skip Navigation

Current Research Projects

I am currently pursuing the three main research projects described below. I welcome student & professional collaborators in any/all of these areas. (I also have smaller projects involving scope & kinship terms; feel free to ask about them!)

Constituency vs. Prosody

Certain distributional patterns in English VP Preposing & VP Ellipsis have long been analyzed as involving “adjunct stranding”. However, recent developments in syntactic & prosodic theory suggest they might better be analyzed terms of copy pronunciation. A prosodic re-analysis of VPP/VPE has important implications for VP structure, insofar as it removes one of the strongest arguments for VP adjuncts as right-adjoined elements. It also has implications  for our understanding of the Syntax ⇔ Information Structure mapping.

In this project I am experimentally investigating the prosodic patterns of VPP and VPE given specific manipulations of the informational context and various “strandings” & “doublings” of VP material that these manipulations enable (or fail to).

 Languages Studied in this Project:  English 


      • (forthcoming) Larson R.K. VP preposing and constituency “paradox”. Linguistic Inquiry.
      • 2022 Larson R.K. Faces and vases. Invited talk presented at the First International Conference on Biolinguistics of the University of Quebec Three Rivers. (June 24-26, 2022).
      • 2020 Larson R.K. VP preposing and constituency “paradox”. Invited talk presented at the New York Institute. (July 20, 2020). 
Generalized Quantifier Syntax & Semantics

Generalized Quantifier theory proposes that quantifiers possess argument structure like other predicates. This suggests that notions of predicate projection based on θ-roles might apply to them. Results with θ-features from my earlier work suggest a way of formalizing these ideas within the Minimalist Program, yielding many intriguing semantic questions. For example, θ-features in vP/VP have a direct interpretation within Neo-Davidsonian event semantics. If θ-features also apply in the projection of DP/DegP, can they too be given a Neo-Davidsonian, event semantics interpretation?

In this project, I am working out the consequences of these ideas. Fascinating puzzles & challenges arise!

Languages Studied in this Project:   English


      • 2022 Larson R.K. Quantification, matching and events. (Draft paper).
      •  2022 Larson R.K. What adverbials & adverbial clauses may teach us about quantification. Cologne International Conference on Adverbial Clauses: Between Subordination and Coordination. (May 21, 2022).
      •  2016 Larson R.K. Quantificational states and argument separation. Workshop on the Syntax and Semantics of the Nominal Domain. Frankfurt University, (February 5 2016).
Diagnosing Definite D

What does it mean for a language to have a definite determiner (DD)? How do we diagnose its presence? The usual view (from Greenberg) is that having a DD = having a dedicated morpheme analogous to English “the”, or its equivalent in Spanish, French, German, Bulgarian, Macedonian, etc. However, it has been noted that languages that are “DD-less” in the Greenbergian sense may nonetheless make systematic use of de-stressed demonstratives (de-stressed ’that’) in contexts where English would require use of a DD. In essence, when grammatical conditions require it, some DD-less languages appear able to “recruit” demonstratives as DD. De-stressing appears to be crucial to recruitment. This observation raises a raft of interesting issues that I am following up in the project.  

 Languages Studied in this Project:  English, Mandarin, Serbian, Japanese, Slovenian