Partnerships for International
Research and Education
Partnerships for International
Research and Education

Michael T. Putnam

Michael T. Putnam
Professor of German and Linguistics
Director, Linguistics Program


My research seeks to gain insight into how we can best model the linguistic competence of natural human grammars. With respect to grammar, the majority of my work focuses on the structure (syntax and morphology) and meaning (semantics and pragmatics) of language and the intersection of these two units. Some of my recent research projects include topics such as (but not limited to) the connection between evolutionary and linguistic theory (The Structural Design of Language (2013), Cambridge University Press, with Thomas Stroik) and its effect on competing theories of the design of cognitive architecture, heritage varieties of German spoken throughout the world and L1 attrition, bilingualism, and passive, middle voice, and anti-causative constructions in Scandinavian languages. These interests extend beyond the theoretical community and invite collaborate research endeavors including scholars from related disciplines such as cognitive science and psychology.



  • Fábregas, A., Mateu, J., & Putnam, M. (Eds.) (to appear). The linguistic handbook of parameters. London: Bloomsbury.
  • Stroik, T. & Putnam, M. (2013) The structural design of language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Putnam, M. (Ed.) (2011) Studies on German-language islands. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Putnam, M. (Ed.) (2010) Exploring crash-proof grammars. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Putnam, M. (Ed.) (2009) Towards a derivational syntax: Survive-minimalism. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Putnam, M. (2007) Scrambling and the Survive Principle. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Articles and Book Chapters:

  • Brown, J. & Putnam, M. (to appear) Functional convergence and extension in contact: Syntactic and semantic attributes of the progressive aspect in Pennsylvania Dutch. InGermanic heritage languages in North America: Acquisition and change. eds. Joseph Salmons & Janne Johannessen. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Chocano, G. & Putnam, M. (to appear) Are all phases created equal? An investigation of Feature Inheritance in connection with Icelandic Quantifier Movement. Linguistic Analysis 38.3-4: 1-42.
  • Putnam, M. & Sánchez, L. (2013) What's so incomplete about incomplete acquisition? A prolegomenon to modeling heritage language grammars. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism 3.4: 476-506.
  • Putnam, M. & Salmons, J. (2013) Losing their (passive) voice: Syntactic neutralization in heritage German. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism 32.2: 233-252.
  • Fábregas, A. & Putnam, M. (2013) Parasitic semantics (or why Swedish can't lexicalize middle voice constructions). Proceedings from Penn Linguistics Collquium (PLC) 36, 19.1: 51-58.
  • Chocano, G. & Putnam, M. (2013) Filling in the gaps: PF-optimalization in parasitic gap constructions in Dutch and German. In Filtering the Derivation. eds. Ralf Vogel & Hans Broekhuis. London: Equinox. pp. 54-75.
  • Putnam, M. (2012) Dative case maintenance in Moundridge Schweitzer German via restructuring. Zeitschrift fuer Dialektologie und Linguistik 1.79: 41-76.
  • Osborne, T., Putnam, M. & Gross, T. (2012) Catenae: Introducing a novel unit of syntactic analysis. Syntax 15.4: 354-396.
  • Biskup, P. & Putnam, M. (2012) One P with two Spell-Outs: the ent/aus-alternation in German. Linguistic Analysis 38.1-2: 69-109.
  • Putnam, M. & Gast, V. (2012) The syntax and semantics of excess: OVER-predicates in Germanic. Proceedings from WCCFL 29, J. Choi, E.A. Hogue, J. Punske, D. Tat, J. Schertz, and A. Trueman, eds., Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press, pp. 223-231.
  • Putnam, M. & Stroik, T. (2011) Syntax at ground zero. Linguistic Analysis 37.3-4: 389-404.
  • Osborne, T., Putnam, M. & Gross, T. (2011) Bare Phrase Structure, Label-less Trees, and Specifier-less Syntax: Is Minimalism Becoming a Dependency Grammar? The Linguistic Review 28.3: 315-364.
  • Putnam, M. & van Koppen, M. (2011) All there is to know about the alls-construction.Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics 14.2: 81-109.
  • Putnam, M. (2011) Anaphors in contact: The distribution of intensifiers and reflexives in Amana German. In Studies on German-language islands, ed. Michael T. Putnam. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 111-128.
  • Putnam, M. & Parafita Couto, M.C. (2009) When grammars collide: contact linguistics from a Survive-perspective. In Towards a Derivational Syntax: Survive-minimalism, ed. M. Putnam, Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 139-176.
  • Stroik, T. & Putnam, M. (2009). Surviving reconstruction. In Phases at the Interface[Interface Explorations 17]. Kleanthes K. Grohmann, ed. Berlin: de Gruyter, pp. 161-181.
  • Putnam, M. (2005) An Anti-Local Account of Why Scrambled Dative Objects Can't Bind Anaphors in German. SKY Journal of Linguistics, 287-309.