Field linguistics and documentation

African languages:

  • Kru languages (Vata, Dida, Gbadi..),
  • Gur (Nawdem),
  • Mande (Bambara),
  • Kwa (Abe(y)..),
  • Grassfield Bantu (Nweh, Ncufie, Bafanji),
  • West Atlantic (Wolof, Fulani),
  • Bantu (Ndendeule, Siswati),
  • Nilotic (Maasai, Dholuo),
  • Austronesian (Malagasy, Javanese, Samoan, Tongan),
  • Creole languages (Haitian, Sranan, Saramaccan).

Formal Linguistics

  • Syntactic theory
  • Morphosyntax
  • Comparative syntax
  • Syntax/Phonology interface


2018. Burnett, H., Koopman, H., & Tagliamonte, S. (2018)  Structural Explanations in Syntactic Variation- The Evolution of English Negative and Polarity Indefinites. Language Variation and Change, 30(1), 83-107. 

2017a.  Neurophysiological dynamics of phrase-structure building during sentence processing (with Nelson, M.J., El Karoui, I., Giber, K., Yang, X., Cohen, L., Cash, S.S., Naccache, L., Hale, J.T., Pallier, C. and Dehaene, S.). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, p.201701590.

2017b. When the Syntax is not what it seems. In Clemens Mayr und Edwin Williams (eds.), Festschrift für Martin Prinzhorn (pp. 163-171). Wiener Linguistische Gazette.

2017c.  Cross-linguistic evidence for a non-distributive lexical meaning of conjunction. (with Enrico Flor, Nina Haslinger, Eva Rosina, Magdalena Roszkowski and Viola Schmitt). In Alexandre Cremers, Thom van Gessel and Floris Roelofsen (eds.), Proceedings of the 21st Amsterdam Colloquium (pp. 255-264).

2017d. A note on Huave Morpheme Ordering: Local Dislocation or Generalized U20?. In Gautam Sengupta, Shruti Sircar, Gayatri Raman, and Rahul Balusu (eds), Perspectives on the Architecture and Acquisition of Syntax: Essays in Honour of R. Amritavalli. Springer. Available at:

2016. A Further Step towards a Minimalist Analysis of Japanese -no (with Tomoko Ishizuka). Presented at the 24th Japanese/Korean Linguistics Conference.

2014a. The que/qui alternation: new analytical directions (with Dominique Sportiche). In Peter Svenonius (ed), Functional Structure From Top to Toe. Oxford University Press.

2014b. Recursion restrictions: Where grammars count. In T. Roeper and M. Speas (eds.), Recursion: Complexity in Cognition (pp. 17-38). Springer International Publishing.

2012a. Samoan ergatives as double passives. In L.Brugé, A. Cardinaletti, G Giusti, N. Monera, and C. Poleto (eds), Functional Heads, Oxford Studies in Comparative Syntax, 7.

2012b. Notes on Malagasy Causatives. In Dennis Paperno and Anna Szabolcsi,  Theories of everything. In Honor of Ed Keenan UCLA working papers in Linguistics, 19, 19, 163-167.

2010a. On Dutch allemaal and West Ulster all. In J. Wouter Zwart (ed), Structure Preserved Benjamins Publications, pp.267-275.

2010b. The Dutch PP: Prepositions, Postpositions, Circumpositions and Particles. In G. Cinque and Luigi Rizzi (eds), Mapping spatial PPs: The cartography of syntactic structures (Vol. 6). Oxford University Press.

2010c. Verbal complexes and complex verbs: a single computational engine. 12th International Symposium on Chinese Language and Linguistics. Taipei, June 2010. (available on demand)

2007. Topics in Imperatives. In W. van der Wurff (ed). Imperative clauses in generative grammar, pp.153-180

2006. Agreement: in defense of the “Spec head configuration”. In Cedric Boeckx (ed), Agreement systems, pp.159-199.

2006. When to pied-pipe and when to strand in San Dionicio Octotepec Zapotec. Organizing Grammar: Linguistic Studies in Honor of Henk van Riemsdijk, 86, p.331.

2005a. Malagasy Imperatives. In Jeffrew Heinz and Dimitrios Nthelitheos, Proceedings of AFLA XII, pp.141-160.

2005b. On the parallelism of DPs and clauses: Evidence from Kisongo Maasai. In A. Carnie (ed), Verb First, On the Syntax of Verb-initial Languages. John Benjamins, Amsterdam, pp.281-302.

2005c. Korean (and Japanese) morphology from a syntactic perspective. Linguistic Inquiry, 36(4), pp.601-633.

2003. The locality of agreement and the structure of the DP in Maasai. In William E.Griffin (ed.), The role of agreement in natural language: TLS 5 Proceedings (pp. 207-227).

2002. Derivations and complexity filters. In A. Alexiadou, E. Anagnostopoulou, S Barbiers, H Gaertner (eds), Dimensions of Movement: From features to remnants, 48, p.151-189.

2001. On the homophony of past tense and imperatives in Kisongo Maasai. In H. Torrence (ed), Papers in African Linguistics 1, UCLA Working Papers in Linguisticsno, 6, pp.1-13.

1999. The internal and external distribution of pronominal DPs. In Kyle Johnson and Ian Roberts (eds), Beyond principles and parameters (pp. 91-132). Springer Netherlands.

1999. Hungarian complex verbs and XP-movement (with Anna Szabolcsi). In I. Kenesei (ed), Crossing Boundaries: Theoretical Advances in Central and Eastern European Languages, Benjamins p. 115-137.

1997. Unifying predicate cleft constructions. In K. Moore (ed.), Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society (Vol. 23, No. 2, pp. 71-85).

1996a. The position of incorporated heads within the Dutch verbal cluster. In F. Lee and E. Garret (eds), Syntax at Sunset, pp. 31-36.

1996b.  The Spec Head configuration. In F. Lee and E. Garret (eds), Syntax at Sunset, pp. 37-64.

1995. On verbs that fail to undergo V-second. Linguistic Inquiry, 26(1), pp.137-163.

1994. Licensing heads. In D. Lightfoot and N. Hornstein (eds), Verb movement, pp.261-295

1992. On the absence of case chains in Bambara. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory, 10(4), pp.555-594.

1991. The position of subjects (with Dominique Sportiche). Lingua, 85(2-3), pp.211-258.

1989. Pronouns, logical variables, and logophoricity in Abe. Linguistic Inquiry, pp.555-588.

1986. A Note on Long Extraction in Vata and the ECP. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory, 4(3), pp.357-374.

1986. On Deriving Deep and Surface order. NELS 14, Umass. pp. 220-235

1986. The genesis of Haitian: Implications of a comparison of some features of the syntax of Haitian, French and West African languages. In P. Muysken et al (ed), Universals versus substrata in Creole genesis. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp.231-259.

1983. ECP effects in main clauses. Linguistic Inquiry, 14(2), pp.346-350.

1982. Control from COMP and comparative syntaxLinguistic Review, 2(4), pp.365-391.

1982. Variables and the Bijection Principle (with Dominique Sportiche). In The Linguistic Review 2.3. pp. 139-160.

1978. Jan Vat (pseudonym). On Footnote 2- Evidence for the pronominal status of þaer in Old English relatives.  Linguistic Inquiry 9.4. pp. 695-717.


2013. An introduction to syntactic analysis and theory (with Dominique Sportiche and Ed Stabler). John Wiley & Sons.

2000. Verbal complexes (with Anna Szabolcsi). MIT Press.

2003. The syntax of specifiers and heads: Collected essays of Hilda J. Koopman. Routledge.

1984. The Syntax of Verbs: From verb movement rules in the Kru languages to Universal Grammar.

Unpublished papers

2011. To find language universals, at least look for them (with Robyn Rider and Dominique Sportiche). (contact me for a copy)

2004. Agreement-lite. A short summary of judgment patterns of 17 speakers for plural agreement in English there-insertion constructions, depending on interveners.

1997. The Doubly filled C filter, the Principle of Projection Activation and Historical Change.

Edited books

1983. Current Approaches to African Linguistics (with J. Kaye, D. Sportiche and A. Dugas). Foris Publications, Dordrecht.


Recent Handouts and Recent/ Upcoming Talks

2019. On Scattering and the agent as possessor puzzle in Samoan. With Vincent Homer. [slides] Celebrating 25 years of Antisymmetry and 75 years of Richard S. Kayne. Celebrating 25 years of Antisymmetry and 75 years of Richard S. Kayne.

2018. When (and why) Syntax-Semantics mismatches and Syntax-Phonology mismatches go together: Evidence from English, Dutch and German.  Utrecht University.

2018. Summer School “Form-Meaning Mismatches in Natural Language” University of Göttingen. Lecture notes.

2017.  The View From the Syntax- Some Comments on Winfried Lechner’s (Semantically Active) Head Movement Presentation. Talk presented at the Workshop for Martin Prinzhorn.

2016. Unifying Syntax and Morphology and the SSWL database project. Presented at The 1st SynCart Workshop, Chiusi.

2016. A Further Step towards a Minimalist Analysis of Japanese no (with Tomato Ishizuka). Presented at the 24th Japanese/Korean Linguistics Conference.

2015. Scattering objects and developing SSWL. Presented at Università Ca’ Foscari, Venezia.

2014. On the importance of being silent or pronounced: English –able and Japanese –rare potentials compared. Presented at GLOW 37th, Brussels.

2013. Remnant Movement, Intervention, and Structure Building- the view from Samoan. Presented at the Conference on Remnant Movement, Frankfurt.


Terraling and SSWL

The SSWL database is one of the datasets in Terraling, and can be found here If you are interested in joining the community, please sign up for / join our terraling google group  at This site is used to send out letters to the community with updates of recent developments (we plan no more than 3 letters per year. So far, letters went out in January 2019 and July 2018).

Documents (2018-)

(2018). Here you can find a general description and an overview of the content of SSWL.

Navigating Terraling describes how to access and navigate the Terraling site.

We have started developing property definitions for existential constructions.  The following documents are linked from within the database.

(2018) Existential Constructions_01

(2018) Existential_constructions_02

Below you can find a guided questionnaire for the development of a SSWL type database of Adjectival Properties in the World’s Languages. It can be used to guide research on adnominal adjectives. If you are interested in helping it develop it further, please contact me!

(2019) Adjectival Questionnaire

If you are interested in the question how to go about developing a coding schema for terraling/SSWL, read the following document about negative existentials.

(2018) Negative_Existentials_02

Some Research results are available (please contact me) or here.