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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, First and Second 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 a BA in Linguistics, 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. I also teach Exploring Language to first year students, Child Language Acquisition to second year students, and Second Language Acquisition and Contact Languages to final year students. Additionally, I contribute to the MA World Englishes module, focusing particularly on contact languages (pidgins and creoles), and to the MA in Descriptive Linguistics.

Exploring Language is a module in which I discuss issues relating to descriptive and theoretical syntax.  I introduce students to Chomsky's transformational generative grammar.

In Language Structure and Meaning I introduce second year students to Chomsky's (1981) Lectures on Government and Binding, and examine publications within the Principles and Parameters framework.

In Language Form I discuss Chomsky's Minimalist framework, looking at issues to do with architecture of the syntactic model, derivation, feature checking and economy issues.

In Child Language Acquisition I examine language development in children between the ages of birth and three. This module focuses on key issues to do with acquisition, and key areas such as phonological development, semantic development, syntactic development, and theories of acquisition are also discussed in detail.

All these modules teach students not only valuable knowledge but also valuable  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 English-based 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.

I am the author of two books, a number of book chapters, and several articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Theoretical Linguistics, Linguistics, Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages, and Acta Linguistica Hafniensia. I have also co-edited, with the late Dr Philip Baker, a book on grammaticalisation in creole languages, Changing Meanings, Changing Functions (University of Westminster Press, 1996). My two books are: The syntax of Mauritian Creole (Bloomsbury Publishers, 2013) and A comprehensive and comparative grammar of French-based creoles (Routledge 2017). I am currently working on another book: A comprehensive and comparative grammar of English-based creoles.  

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.