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Omer Preminger Dissertation Proposal Example

Applications are open for the University of Maryland’s 3rd annual Summer Field School in Guatemala, from May 26th, 2018 to June 24th, 2018. For more information, click here.


I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Maryland, and I’m an affiliate of the Maryland Language Science Center. I am also the Associate Director of the UMD/LSC Guatemala Field Station.


My research interests span the linguistic sub-fields traditionally identified as syntax and morphology.

I am particularly interested in phenomena that resist explanation in terms of sound and/or meaning alone. (If you are unfamiliar with linguistics, the very idea that such phenomena exist might strike you as a little bit counterintuitive. But phenomena of this sort are surprisingly common in natural language!)


Topics I am interested in include:

  • predicate-argument agreement
  • case theory
  • clitic doubling, and its relation to head movement & phrasal movement
  • the division of labor between syntax and morphology
  • syntax-semantics misalignments
  • the nature of ergativity, and the mechanisms underlying split-ergativity as well as syntactic ergativity
  • locality and anti-locality
  • non-canonical wh-constructions
  • the mapping between argument-structure and syntax

I work on various (and often unrelated) languages, including:

  • Basque
  • (modern) Hebrew
  • Kaqchikel, Q’anjob’al (Mayan)
  • Sakha (Turkic)
  • Kinyarwanda, Shi (Bantu)
  • Oromo (Cushitic)
  • Georgian (Kartvelian)

See my research page for further details.  


And now, a linguistic Dinosaur Comic:

(made using the blank Dinosaur Comic template, available here)

In this book, Omer Preminger investigates how the obligatory nature of predicate-argument agreement is enforced by the grammar. Preminger argues that an empirically adequate theory of predicate-argument agreement requires recourse to an operation, whose obligatoriness is a grammatical primitive not reducible to representational properties, but whose successful culmination is not enforced by the grammar. Preminger's argument counters contemporary approaches that find the obligatoriness of predicate-argument agreement enforced through representational means. The most prominent of these is Chomsky's "interpretability"-based proposal, in which the obligatoriness of predicate-argument agreement is enforced through derivational time bombs. Preminger presents an empirical argument against contemporary approaches that seek to derive the obligatory nature of predicate-argument agreement exclusively from derivational time bombs. He offers instead an alternative account based on the notion of obligatory operations better suited to the facts. The crucial data involves utterances that inescapably involve attempted-but-failed agreement and are nonetheless fully grammatical. Preminger combines a detailed empirical investigation of agreement phenomena in the Kichean (Mayan) languages, Zulu (Bantu), Basque, Icelandic, and French with an extensive and rigorous theoretical exploration of the far-reaching consequences of these data. The result is a novel proposal that has profound implications for the formalism that the theory of grammar uses to derive obligatory processes and properties.

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