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About me

I have been a full-time member of staff at the University of Westminster since 1991. I have taught a number of courses including Descriptive and Theoretical Syntax, Language Acquisition, and Psycholinguistics, at both undergraduate and graduate level, and was from 1997 to 2004 the head of the Linguistics Section. Before taking my full-time position at Westminster, I worked at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology as a Research Associate and taught part-time at the University of Salford.

I studied Linguistics at the University College of North Wales, Bangor, and at the University of Essex. I hold an MA in Applied Linguistics and a PhD in Linguistics (Syntax).

My main research interests lie in the areas of theoretical syntax, syntax of creole languages, the creole language of Down's Syndrome children and adults and language mixing at the level of grammar.

Teaching

I teach modules in descriptive and theoretical Syntax in all three years of the Undergraduate programme, as well as Introduction to Linguistics for first year students, and First Language Acquisition as a final year option. I also contribute to the MA World Englishes module, focusing particularly on contact languages (pidgins and creoles).

Introduction to Linguistics is a module in which I discuss issues to do with syntax, morphology, semantics, phonetics and phonology, child language, language processing and language contact.

Word and Sentence Structure focuses on descriptive and comparative syntax of different languages, looking at how different languages exploit their morphological and syntactic resources.

Syntactic Theory, which I teach for the second year, introduces students to Chomsky's generative grammar. This module examines Chomsky's Lectures on Government and Binding (Chomsky 1981) and subsequent publications in the Principles and Parameters framework.

Advanced Syntax is a final year module which introduces students to Chomsky's Minimalist framework, looking at issues to do with architecture of the syntactic model, derivation, feature checking and economy issues.

First Language Acquisition examines the language development in children between the ages of birth to three. It focuses on key issues to do with acquisition, and key areas such as phonological development, semantic development, syntactic development and theories of acquisition are discussed in detail.

All these modules teach students transferrable skills to do with data description, analysis, and interpretation as well as presentation and argumentation.

Research

My general research interests include Syntactic Theory, Creole Linguistics, Language Acquisition, and Language Impairment (Down's Syndrome). I am particularly interested in the structure of creole languages and in a theory of creole development, and in finding out what the study of creole languages can offer general linguistic theory and a theory of language acquisition.

My current research projects include a description of the grammars of French creoles, the grammatical development of creole-speaking Down's Syndrome children and adults, and language mixing between creoles and Bhojpuri (an Indian language) in former colonies with a large Indian diaspora.

Beside a number of book chapters, I have published in several Linguistics journals including Theoretical Linguistics, Linguistics, Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages, and Acta Linguistica Hafniensia. I have also co-edited, with Dr Philip Baker, a book on grammaticalisation in creole languages, Changing Meanings, Changing Functions (University of Westminster Press, 1996) and written a book The syntax of Mauritian Creole (Bloomsbury Publishers, 2012). I am currently working on another book, Descriptive and Comparative Grammar of French Creoles, which is to be published by Routledge in 2016.

I have experience of doctoral supervision, both as main and joint supervisor. I would welcome applications for doctoral research in the area of syntax, including the syntax of creole languages.

I am also a member of the Society of Pidgin and Creole Linguistics and of the Linguistic Association of Great Britain.

Publications

For details of all my research outputs, visit my WestminsterResearch profile.