Dr Michelle Sheehan

Reader in Linguistics

Course Leader, BA (Hons) English Language

Faculty:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Department:School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Language and linguistics

Courses taught: English Language, English Language and Linguistics, English Language and English Language Teaching

Michelle teaches and researches in the area of linguistics, with a particular focus on the structure of language (syntax).

Michelle's website

michelle.sheehan@anglia.ac.uk

Twitter: @MiShee54


Background

Michelle has been at ARU since August 2015, being promoted to Reader in 2017. Before that, she worked as a researcher at the Universities of Newcastle, Durham and Cambridge on a variety of collaborative projects.

She is interested in the structure of language (syntactic theory), how languages vary and how we can model this variation (typology, comparative syntax) and how structure and meaning interact (syntax/semantics interface). She has a particular interest in languages descended from Latin (Romance languages), especially Spanish and Portuguese varieties and in the study of language universals from a variety of perspectives.

Michelle also leads the project Linguistics in Modern Foreign Languages (run with colleagues at Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge and Queen Mary University of London). This project aims to introduce secondary language students to linguistics. So far, the project has run for students of German, French and Spanish A-level, but it will soon be expanded to include heritage languages such as Portuguese and Greek. For more information about the project see linguisticsinmfl.co.uk. For a concise overview of the project’s philosophy see https://www.tes.com/news/teaching-linguistics-improves-language-skills.  To keep updated, follow us on twitter @InMfl.

Michelle is currently collaborating with a number of colleagues in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, and Brazil on issues related to argument structure (ditransitive and causative constructions), case and agreement (experimental and theoretical perspectives) and unexpressed arguments (Control).


Areas of research supervision

Michelle has successfully supervised MA and PhD dissertations in the area of comparative syntax touching on the grammars of English, Chinese, Basque, Georgian, Hungarian, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and its dialects, Polish, Greek and Icelandic. She would be very interested in supervising projects focused partly or wholly on the syntax of any language (including heritage varieties), particularly from a comparative perspective. She also currently supervises a PhD student working on heritage French in the UK and would also be interested in supervising other projects focused on community/heritage languages and/or the teaching of languages in UK schools.


Teaching

Michelle teaches on a range of undergraduate modules related to linguistics, for example Revealing English Structure, Structure of English: past and present and Languages in Contrast. She also teaches on a final-year Special Topic module on constructed languages and runs a museums-based module for which students create their own language-based exhibition (https://newroutesoldroots.com/2018/06/01/voices-of-the-fens-2/)

Michelle also teaches on the MA module Second Language Acquisition.


Qualifications

  • PhD Linguistics, Newcastle University
  • MA Linguistics (distinction), York University
  • BA Modern Languages, University of Oxford

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Honorary secretary for the Linguistics Association of Great Britain (LAGB, 2018-)
  • Meetings secretary for the Linguistics Association of Great Britain (LAGB, 2015-2018)
  • Member of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain
  • Member of Generative Linguistics in the Old World (GLOW)
  • Member of the Philological Society (PhilSoc)
  • Member of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA)
  • Co-editor of IBERIA (online journal on theoretical linguistics)

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

  • Arts Council Museums and Universities Initiative (MUPI) grant to set up regional network (2017 - with University of East Anglia, Peterborough Museum /Flag Fen Archaeology Park – Vivacity Heritage, Culture Coventry Trust, de Havilland Aircraft Museum, National Horseracing Museum and Museum of Power).
  • External collaborator on SSHRC project The nature of parameters: representing language universals and language variation (PI: Lisa Travis, McGill)
  • Co-founder and convener of weekly Anglia Ruskin - Cambridge University Romance Linguistics Seminar (2015-date)
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2016-)
  • British Academy International Partnership and Mobility Scheme grant of £10,000 for the project 'Variation in Romance causatives: a synchronic and diachronic study' (PI, with Sonia Cyrino, UNICAMP, 2015-16)
  • Cambridge Returning Carers Scheme grant of £2500 for academic travel (2014)
  • Fundaçao de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo grant of of £2900 for a visiting scholarship at Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil (hosted by Sonia Cyrino, 2014)
  • Cambridge Humanities Research Grant of £6801 for the project 'Probing a typological gap: ergativity as a marked alignment?' (Co-I with John Williams) (2012-14)
  • British Academy conference grant of £6800 for ' The Past and Future of Universal Grammar' (co-appilcant with Wolfram Hinzen, 2011)
  • Two Newcastle University Humanities and Social Sciences conference grants os £500 (2005, 2009)
  • Arts and Humanities Research Board doctoral funding (2003-06)
  • York University studentship for MA study (2001-02

Selected recent publications

Peer-reviewed

To appear a. (with N. Schifano) Italian faire-infinitives: the special case of volere. To appear in Mirko Grimaldi, Rosangela Lai, Ludovico Franco and Benedetta Baldi (eds), Structuring variation in Romance Linguistics and Beyond. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

To appear b. (with C. Sevdali) Rethinking partial control: new evidence from finite control languages. To appear in a Language Sciences Press volume.

To appear c. (with A. Holmberg and J. van der Wal) Movement from the double object construction is not fully symmetrical. Accepted to appear in Linguistic Inquiry.

To appear d. The Romance Person Case Constraint is not about clitic clusters. To appear in a Language Sciences Press edited volume on datives, ed. by Jaume Mateu and Anna Pineda.

To appear e. (with M. C. Parfait Couto, J. Blokzijl) Inflected infinitives in Galician. To appear in I. Vogel, T. Miller & K. Kostyzsyn (eds.), Selected papers from LSRL 47.

2018a. Basic word order in Brazilian Portuguese: a hybrid EPP. Estudios linguísticos e literários 58: 103-128.

2018b. (with A. Paciorek and J. Williams) Case/agreement matching: evidence for a cognitive bias. Glossa 3: 92.

2018c. Control of inflected infinitives in European Portuguese. In A. Gonçalves & A.-L. Santos (eds.), 29-58. Complement clauses in Portuguese: syntax and acquisition. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

2018d. (with J. van der Wal) Nominal licensing in caseless languages. Journal of Linguistics.

2018e. On the difference between exhaustive and non-exhaustive control. In F. Cognola & J. Casalicchio (eds.), Understanding Null Subjects: a Synchronic and Diachronic Perspective. OUP.

2017a. Labelling and the Head-Final Filter. In L. Bauke & A. Blümel (eds.), Labels and Roots, 161-202. Mouton de Gruyter.

2017b. Parameterising ergativity: an inherent case approach. In J. Coon, D. Massam, and L. Travis (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Ergativity, OUP, 59-85.

2017c. (first-editor with T. Biberauer, A. Holmberg & I. Roberts) The Final-over-Final Condition. MIT Press. Cambridge, MA.

2017d. (edited with L. Bailey). Order and Structure in Syntax (volume I). Language Sciences Press.

2017e (edited with L. Bailey). Order and Structure in Syntax (volume II). Language Sciences Press.

2017f. (with J. Douglas and R. Ranero) Two kinds of syntactic ergativity in Mayan. In Proceedings of GLOW in Asia XI, MIT working papers in linguistics. Cambridge, MA.

2016a. Complex predicates. In A. Ledgeway & M. Maiden (eds.), The Oxford Guide to the Romance Languages, 981-993. OUP.

2016b. Subjects, null subjects and expletives in Romance. In S. Fischer & S. Gabriel  (eds.), Manuals of Romance Linguistics (MRL): Grammatical Interfaces, 329-362. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

2016c. (with S. Cyrino) Variation and change in the faire-par causative. In E. Carrilho, A. Fieis, M. Lobo & S. Pereira (eds.), Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory, 279-304. John Benjamins.

2015. Case. Ergative languages. In A. Fábregas, J. Mateu & M. Putnam (eds.), Contemporary Linguistic Parameters, Bloomsbury.

2014a. (with T. Biberauer, A. Holmberg & I. Roberts) Complexity in comparative syntax: the view from modern parametric theory. In F. Newmeyer & L. Preston (eds.), Measuring Grammatical Complexity, 103-127. OUP.

2014b. (with W. Hinzen and U. Reichard)  Intensionality, grammar and the sentential hypothesis. In P. Kosta, S, Franks, T. Radeva-Bork & L. Schurcks (eds.), Minimalism and Beyond: Radicalizing the Interfaces, 315-349. John Benjamins.

2014c. Partial Control in Romance Languages: the covert comitative analysis. In K. Lahousse & S. Marzo (eds.), Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory, 181-198. John Benjamins.

2013a. Explaining the Final-over-Final Constraint: formal and functional approaches. In T. Biberauer & M. Sheehan (eds.), Theoretical Approaches to Disharmonic Word Order. Oxford University Press, 407-444.

2013b. Some implications of a copy theory of labeling.  Syntax 16 (4): 362-396 (DOI: 10.1111/synt.12010) 

2013c. (with W. Hinzen) The Philosophy of Universal Grammar. Oxford University Press.

2013d. (ed. with T. Biberauer) Theoretical Approaches to Disharmonic Word Order. Oxford University Press.

2013e. (with T. Biberauer) Theoretical approaches to disharmonic word order. In T. Biberauer & M. Sheehan (eds.), Theoretical Approaches to Disharmonic Word Order. Oxford University Press, 1-46.

2012. (with T. Biberauer) Disharmony, Antisymmetry, and the Final-over-Final Constraint. In M. Uribe-Etxebarria & V. Valmala (eds.) Ways of Structure Building. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Working papers, published reviews and proceedings papers

To appear e. (with M. Pitteroff) The case for Fake Partial Control in French and German. To appear in Proceedings of NELS 48.

To appear f. (with S. Cyrino) Why do some ECM verbs resist passivisation: a phase-based explanation.  To appear in Proceedings of NELS 48.

2018. Teaching linguistics improves language skills. Times Educational Supplement, [online] (last updated 19 October 2018). Available at: < https://www.tes.com/news/teaching-linguistics-improves-language-skills> [Accessed on 19 October 2018]

2016. (with J. van der Wal) Do we need abstract Case? In K. Kim, P. Umbal, T. Block, Q. Chan, T. Cheng, K. Finney, M. Katz, S. Nickel-Thompson, and L. Shorten (eds.), Proceedings of WCCFL 33, 351-360. Somerville, Mass.: Cascadilla Press.

2015. Review of Coon, Jessica. (2013) Aspects of Split Ergativity. New York: Oxford University Press. Linguistic Variation 15 (2): 299-306.

2014a. (with T. Biberauer & I. Roberts) No-choice parameters and the limits of syntactic variation. In R. E. Santana-LaBarge (ed.), Proceedings of WCCFL 31, 46-55. Somerville, Mass.: Cascadilla Press.

2014b. Portuguese, Russian and the Theory of Control. In H. Huang, E. Poole & A. Rysling (eds.), Proceedings of the 43rd Annual Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society 43 (NELS 43), volume 2, 115-126.

2014c. Towards a Parameter Hierarchy for Alignment. In R. E. Santana-LaBarge (ed.), Proceedings of WCCFL 31, 399-408. Somerville, Mass.: Cascadilla Press.

2013. The resuscitation of CED. In S. Kan, C. Moore-Cantwell & R. Staubs (eds.), Proceedings of the 40th Annual Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society (NELS 40). Amherst, Mass.: GLSA, 135-150.

2012. A new take on partial Control: defective thematic intervention. Cambridge Occasional Papers in Linguistics 6: 1-47.


Recent presentations and conferences

Peer-reviewed conference papers

2017 a. Dative extension in causatives: faire-infinitif in Latin American Spanish. Paper presented at Dative structures and beyond, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, January 2017.

2017 b. (with A. Holmberg & J. van der Wal) Movement from the double object construction is not fully symmetrical. Paper presented at Dative structures and beyond, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, January 2017.

2017 c. (with J. Douglas & R. Ranero) Two kinds of syntactic ergativity in Mayan. Poster presented at GLOW in Asia, National University of Singapore, February 2017.

2017 d. (with M. C. Parafita Couto and J. Blokzijl) Inflected infinitives in Galician. Paper presented at Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages (LSRL), Delaware, April 2017.

2017 e. (with Sonia Cyrino) On ECM, causation, perception and passivisation. Paper to be presented at CamVoice, University of Cambridge, May 2017.

2017 f. (with M. C. Parafita Couto and J. Blokzijl) More on inflected infinitives in Brazilian Portuguese. Associação de Brasilianistas na Europa. Leiden, May 2017.

2017 g. (with Sonia Cyrino) Why do some ECM verbs resist passivisation? A phase-based explanation. Paper to be presented at VI Congress Internacional de Estudos Linguísticos (CIEL), Universidade de Brasília, August 2017.

2017 h. (with M. Pitteroff) The case for partial control in French and German. Paper to be presented at Comparative Germanic Syntax Workshop, Trondheim, September 2017.

2017 i. (with M. Pitteroff) The case for partial control in French and German. Paper to be presented at North East Linguistic Society. University of Iceland, October 2017.

2017 j. (with S. Cyrino) Why do some ECM verbs resist passivisation? A phase-based explanation. Poster to be presented at North East Linguistic Society. University of Iceland, October 2017.

2016 a. (with J. Douglas) Two ways to be high ABS: on avoiding defective intervention. Poster to be presented at Generative Linguistics in the Old World (GLOW), April 2016.

2016 b. A parameter hierarchy for the Romance faire-infinitif. Paper presented at The Linguistics Association of Great Britain (LAGB) Annual Meeting, University of York, September 2016.

2016 c. (with C. Sevdali) Partial control in finite control languages. Poster to be presented at Control workshop, Stuttgart, October.

2016 d. (with J. Douglas and R. Ranero) Derivando la ergatividad sintáctica en los idiomas Mayas. Paper presented at FAMLi, Valladolid, Mexico.

2015. a. Variation and change in the Romance faire-infinitif. Paper presented at the Romance Linguistics Seminar, Cambridge, January 2015.

2015. b. (with John Williams and Albertyna Paciorek) Probing a typological gap: experimental evidence for an accusative bias? Paper presented at L2 acquisition of alignment patterns in typologically diverse languages: case and agreement. Gent, February 2015.

2015. c. (with Sonia Cyrino) Variation and change in the Romance faire-infinitif. Poster presented at the Incontro di Grammatica Generativa, Perugia, February 2015.

2015. d. (with Jenneke van der Wal) Nominal licensing without abstract Case. Paper presented at WCCFL 33, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, March 2015.

2015. e. Spanish causatives in the Romance context. Paper presented at IV International Conference on Hispanic Linguistics: Harmony and Contrasts, Lisbon, April 2015.

2015. f. (with Maia Duguine) Control in Basque nominalisations: issues and potential solutions. Paper presented at Colóquio de Gramática Generativa. Bayonne, May 2015.

2015. g. (with Anders Holmberg & Jenneke van der Wal) Movement from the double object construction is never symmetrical. Paper to be presented at Formal Approaches to Morphosyntactic Variation. Vitoria-Gasteiz, June 2015.

2015. h. (with Anders Holmberg & Jenneke van der Wal) Movement from the double object construction is never symmetrical. Paper to be presented at The Linguistics Association of Great Britain Annual Meeting, UCL, September 2015.

2015. i. (with Ian Roberts) A Parameter hierarchy for passives. Paper to be presented at The Linguistics Association of Great Britain Annual Meeting, UCL, September 2015

2015. j. (with Sonia Cyrino) Ibero-Romance causatives: constrained variation. Paper to be presented at Ibero-Romance in Contact and Contrast, Leuven, December 2015.

2014. a. (with J. van der Wal) The worst Case Scenario. Paper presented at TIN-dag 2014, Leiden, February (with J. van der Wal).

2014. b. (with J. van der Wal) The worst Case Scenario. Paper presented at Linguistics Association of Great Britain Annual Meeting, Oxford, September.

2014. c. (with J. van der Wal)The worst Case Scenario. Paper presented at Societas Linguistica Europaea (SLE), Poznan, September.

2014. d. (with J. van der Wal)The worst Case Scenario. Paper presented at The State of the Art in Comparative Syntax Workshop, Comparative Germanic Syntax Workshop (CGSW), York, September.

2014. e. (with J. van der Wal) The worst Case Scenario. Paper presented at Workshop on Syntactic Variation, Bucharest, November.

2014. f. (with Sonia Cyrino) Variation and change in the Romance faire-infinitif. Paper presented at Going Romance 2014, Lisbon, December.


Invited talks

2018 a. (with Jamie Douglas and Rodrigo Ranero) How A-movement can lead to extraction restrictions. Asymmetries 2018. Invited plenary at DGfS Asymmetries workshop, Stuttgart University, March 2018.

2018 b. No escape-hatch for A-movement: evidence from causative/perception verbs. Invited colloquium talk at University of Göttingen, April 2018.

2018 c. *They were seen/let leave: where passivisation fails and why. Newcastle University Linguistics Speaker Series, October 2018.

2018 d. Minimalist approaches to extraction restrictions. Invited colloquium talk at University of Tuebingen, November 2018. 

2018 e. Passives and causatives in Romance: puzzles and explanations. Plenary talk at  Romanian and the Romance languages: the 18th international conference of the Department of Linguistics, University of Bucharest, November 2018.

2017 a. (with Ian Roberts) A Parameter hierarchy for passives. Invited talk given at CamVoice, University of Cambridge, May 2017.

2017 b. The EPP in Romance null subject languages: a hybrid approach. Invited talk given at Seminário Internacional sobre a ordem de palavras em línguas ibero-românicas, Universidade de Salvador,

2017 c. (with Ian Roberts) Remarks on a Parameter Hierarchy for Passives. Invited talk given at Passives - A Cross-Linguistic Workshop, University of Vienna, September 2017.

2017 d. Getting the variation in control: German/English = French + Icelandic. MIT Linguistics colloquium, MIT, November 2017.

2017 e. No escape-hatch for A-movement: evidence from causative/perception verbs. Invited colloquium talk at Queen Mary University of London, November 2017.

2016 a. Degrees of ergativity in Romance causatives. Invited colloquium talk at Cambridge Linguistics Forum, University of Cambridge.

2016 b. (with Anders Holmberg & Jenneke van der Wal). Movement from the double object construction is never symmetrical. Invited colloquium talk at Newcastle University Linguistics Speaker Series, February 2016.

2016 c. When pro behaves like PRO: on the distribution of Cased Control. Invited plenary speaker at Linguistic Variation in the Interaction between Internal and External Syntax, University of Utrecht, February 2016.

2016 d. When pro behaves like PRO: on the distribution of Cased Control. Invited colloquium talk given at Linguistics Research Seminars. Ulster University, Belfast, February 2016.

2016 e. On the typology of Control. Invited plenary speaker at Workshop on non-finite subjects, Université de Nantes, April 2016.

2016 f. When pro behaves like PRO: on the distribution of Cased Control. Invited colloquium talk at Stuttgart University, May 2016.

2016 g. On the (lack of) partial control in Romanian. Invited talk at Workshop on Romanian syntax. University of Cambridge, June 2016.

2016 h. (with J. Douglas and R. Ranero) Deriving syntactic ergativity in Mayan languages. Invited colloquium talk given at Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP), Campinas, Brazil, November 2016.

2016 i. (with S. Cyrino) Variation in faire-par nominalisations across Romance varieties. Invited talk given at Nereus workshop. University of Cambridge, December 2016.

2015 a. Case parameters. Invited colloquium talk given at LingTea, McGill, Montreal, April 2015.

2015 b. On the lack of consistency in (Romance) consistent null subject languages. Invited talk given at CamCoS 4, May 2015.

2015 c. What word order tells us about syntax and why. Invited plenary lecture given at the English Language and Linguistics Undergraduate Conference, University of Kent, June 2015.

2015 d. (with Jamie Douglas) Extraction restrictions and asymmetries: prospects for a unified account. Invited talk given at Questions at the syntax-semantics interface, University College London, September 2015.

2015 e. (with Ian Roberts) A Parameter hierarchy for passives. Invited talk given at Harvard University, USA, October 2015.

2015 f. (with Ian Roberts) A Parameter hierarchy for passives. Invited talk given at Georgetown University, USA, October 2015.

2015 g. (with Ian Roberts) A Parameter hierarchy for passives. Invited talk given at New York University, USA, October 2015.

2015 h. (with Ian Roberts) A Parameter hierarchy for passives. Invited talk given at Rutgers University, USA, November 2015.

2014 a. Clausal alignment: the case for parameter hierarchies. Invited talk given at Workshop on Principles and Parameters. Arezzo, Italy, July 2014.

2014 b. Partial Control in European Portuguese and Russian: parallels and contrasts. Invited talk given at First Workshop on Control, USP, São Paulo, Brazil, July 2014.

2014 c. Partial Control in European Portuguese and Russian: parallels and contrasts. Invited talk given at Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP), Campinas, Brazil, August 2014.

2014 d. Obviation and Control in Portuguese and Russian.  Invited talk given at Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil, August 2014.

2014 e. Ergative alignment in Romance causatives: a parameter hierarchy approach. Invited talk given at Building Blocks, University of Leipzig, Germany, November 2014.