Thank you for visiting my website. I am a linguist with research interests in syntax, Slavic syntax, and the evolution of syntax. I am professor of Linguistics at Wayne State University in Detroit, USA, and am currently a visiting scholar at MIT, Cambridge, MA.
My research focus in the past ten years has been understanding how and why human language evolved. My findings lead to the conclusion that syntax/grammar evolved gradually (through well-defined stages), and that these stages are not only still evident in various modern language constructions (‘living fossils’), but that they also provide a scaffolding/foundation for building more complex syntactic/grammatical structures, and for achieving cross-linguistic variation. The approach involves a precise internal reconstruction of syntactic stages based on syntactic theory. By reconstructing a particular path along which syntax evolved, this approach is able to explain some crucial properties of language design itself, as well as to reveal the selection pressures that would have been involved in the evolution of syntax, consistent with the forces of natural/sexual selection (e.g. Darwin 1874). The postulates of this proposal are specific enough and at the right level of granularity to meaningfully engage the postulates in the fields such as neuroscience and genetics, as well as to hypothesize about grammars of early humans and Neanderthals.
I invite you to look at my publications on the topic, and to give me feedback (progovacATwayneDOTedu). My most thorough and comprehensive arguments for this position can be found in the two books that I wrote: Evolutionary Syntax (2015), by Oxford University Press: DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198736547.001.0001, and the forthcoming book written for Springer Expert Briefs, A Critical Introduction to Language Evolution. The most succinct proposal (which gives a fragment of early human and Neanderthal grammars) can be found in my 2016 open-access article in Frontiers in Psychology (doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01714). The joint 2018 article also in Frontiers in Psychology (doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00278) offers results of an fMRI experiment testing this proposal, as well as provides a specific evolutionary tinkering scenario for the evolution of diversity in the expression of transitivity across languages.