A video introducing linguistics to first-year college students

Tim Hunter

Assistant Professor
Institute of Linguistics
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

timh at umn dot edu


Curriculum Vitae

News: In fall 2016, I will be joining the Department of Linguistics at UCLA!


Integrating Minimalist Grammars into Cognitive Models

I am interested in developing new ways of testing grammatical hypotheses by integrating them into "larger-scale" theories of things like language processing or language acquisition. The two papers below provided most of the raw ingredients for my current thinking on this topic. The way I envisage putting the pieces together was presented in my course at ESSLLI in 2015, and I have an in-progress manuscript on this too; email me if you are interested.


My theoretical work has recently veered, somewhat unexpectedly, in the direction of ellipsis (as seems to happen for many people at one point or another). One interesting common thread to the discoveries in both of the papers below is that they involve sluicing-like constructions that are sensitive to quite global properties of the antecedent of ellipsis, not just the immediate local surroundings of the remnant phrase.

The Syntax and Semantics of Adjuncts

My starting point for this line of research was an interest in the argument/adjunct distinction and the extent to which explanations for puzzling syntactic patterns might derive from the ways arguments and adjuncts contribute to neo-Davidsonian logical forms. This was the focus of my dissertation. The system I developed there turns out to make interesting connections with other topics such as remnant movement, redundancies between merge and move, and extraposition.

Verification and Acquisition of Quantification/Determiners

Along with Paul Pietroski, Jeff Lidz, and Justin Halberda, I'm studying the semantics of quantificational words like 'most'. Based on careful consideration of how linguistic meaning interacts with other cognitive systems (e.g. psychology of number, visual perception), results of our studies indicate that linguistic meaning is not entirely divorced from verification procedures in the way that is implicitly assumed by much standard practice in semantics.

I've also done some experiments, with Jeff Lidz and others, looking at four- and five-year-olds' learning of determiner meanings. The aim of this work is to see how closely the learner's hypothesis space of available determiner meanings reflects existing typological generalisations, such as the restriction to conservative determiner meanings.

Other odds and ends


From "Down Under"

I'm originally from Sydney, Australia but moved to the US for graduate school in 2005. As an undergraduate I studied mainly computer science and French, but towards the end I became more interested in linguistics.

In Sydney I studied at the University of New South Wales from 2000-2004, mainly in the School of Computer Science and Engineering (where I also did some teaching) and the French and Linguistics departments. Most of my involvement with linguistics was with Mengistu Amberber. I also spent a semester on exchange at Ecole des Mines d'Ales, France, in 2002-03.

In my spare time I was what's known in Australia as a "cricket tragic" (a fanatical follower of the game) and also a founding member of the STALW indoor cricket team. I still generally make it back to Sydney for the annual Test match in January, but in between my cricket exposure is sadly fairly sparse.

In my not-so-spare time I was a proud member of the small software development team at Brain Juice.

If you would like a one-minute introduction to Australia, have a look at this (although we don't actually drink that stuff).

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The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by the University of Minnesota.