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Rethinking Comparative Syntax (ReCoS)

Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics

Studying at Cambridge


Professor Ian Roberts

Professor Ian Roberts

Professor of Linguistics & Principal Investigator

Office Phone: +44 (0)1223 760820

Research Interests

CV and Publications

Ian Roberts is the Principal Investigator on the ReCoS project. He specialises in comparative and historical syntax, using and developing the 'principles and parameters' approach to cross-linguistic variation. In this context, he has worked on the synchronic and diachronic syntax of a wide range of Germanic, Romance and Celtic languages. He has published four research monographs in this field: The Representation of Implicit and Dethematised Subjects (1987); Verbs and Diachronic Syntax (1993); Syntactic Change (2003) with A. Roussou, and Principles and Parameters in a VSO Language: A Case Study in Welsh (2005), as well as numerous articles and a textbook Comparative Syntax (1996). His most recent publications are Diachronic Syntax (2007) and a six-volume edited collection Comparative Grammar: Critical Concepts (2007).

Key Publications

To appear

Ledgeway, A. & I. Roberts (eds.) The Cambridge Handbook of Historical Syntax. Cambridge: Cambridge Universtity Press.

Roberts, I. (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Universal Grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Roberts, I. The Wonders of Language, or How to Make Noises and Influence People. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sheehan, M., Biberauer, T., A. Holmberg & I. Roberts. The Final over Final Constraint. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.



Biberauer, T. & I. Roberts. 2015. The Clausal Hierarchy, Features and Parameters. In U. Shlonsky (ed) Beyond Functional Sequence: The Cartography of Syntactic Structures, Volume 10. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 295-313.



Aboh, E., M.-T. Guasti & I. Roberts. 2014. Locality. Oxford/New York: Oxford       University Press.

Biberauer, T., A. Holmberg & I. Roberts. 2014. A Syntactic Universal and its      Consequences. Linguistic Inquiry 45:169-225.

Biberauer, T., A. Holmberg, I. Roberts & M. Sheehan. 2014. Complexity in comparative syntax: the view from modern parametric    theory. In F. Newmeyer & L. Preston (eds) Measuring Grammatical Complexity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 103-127.

Holmberg, A. & I. Roberts. 2014. Parameters and the three factors of language design. In C. Picallo (ed) Linguistic Variation in the Minimalist Framework. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Roberts, I. 2014a. Taraldsen’s Generalisation and Diachronic Syntax: Two Ways to Lose Null Subjects. In P. Svenonius (ed) Functional Structure from Top to Toe: The Cartography of Syntactic Structures, Volume 9. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 115-148.

Roberts, I. 2014b. Syntactic Change. In A. Carnie, D. Siddiqi & Y. Sato (eds) Routledge Handbook of Syntax. London, Routledge, pp. 391-408.

Roberts, I. 2014c. Subject clitics and macroparameters. In P. Benincà, A. Ledgeway & N. Vincent (eds) Diachrony and Dialects: Grammatical change in the dialects of Italy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 177-201.

Roberts, I. 2014d. The Mystery of the Overlooked Discipline: Modern Syntactic Theory and Cognitive Science. Revue Roumaine de Linguistique 58:151-178.

Watumull, J., Hauser, M., Hornstein, N. & I. Roberts. 2014. On Recursion. Frontiers in Psychology 4:1017.