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School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

RESCHEDULED: Randolph Quirk Fellow 2023 - Professor Michael Wagner - Public Lecture

When: Tuesday, June 13, 2023, 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Where: Online

Towards an Alternative Syntax

Michael Wagner

Professor and Chair, Linguistics McGill University

Oddball phenomena—such as focus and coordination below the word level, metalinguistic uses of focus and disjunction, expletive insertion within words, and echo questions (see Artstein 2002 for pioneering work on these)—make sense if grammatical expressions can operate over other expressions of the grammar (following Potts 2007), including over sets of alternative expressions. The tools that shed light on these fringes of grammar turn out to be useful also when trying to understand issues at its core, such as the scope of disjunction or focus operators like only. They also raise new questions about the architecture of grammar. They seemingly call for a grammar in which structural pieces are inserted early, before they are assigned syntactic features and a meaning.

Michael Wagner is a faculty member in Linguistics at McGill University and a Principal Member of the MontreĢal Center for Brain, Language, and Music (CRBLM), since 2008. His lab is currently funded through research grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada as well as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

If you have questions please contact Daniel Harbour (

Randolph Quirk public lecture announcement



As the Randolph Quirk Fellow 2023 at Queen Mary University of London, Prof. Wagner was invited to give a series of public workshops alongside the public lecture. Details of each of these workshops can be found below:

Monday 22nd May - Projecting syntactic alternatives workshop
Tuesday 23rd May - Operating over syntactic Alternatives workshop
Wednesday 24th May - Syntactic projection as an abbreviatory device workshop


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