Thank you for visiting my website. I am a linguist with research interests in syntax, Slavic syntax, and the evolution of syntax. I am currently professor and director of the Linguistics Program at Wayne State University in Detroit, USA.

My research focus in the past ten years has been on understanding how and why human language evolved. My findings lead to the conclusion that syntax 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 for building more complex syntactic structures. The approach involves a precise internal reconstruction of syntactic stages based on the syntactic theory of Minimalism (e.g. Chomsky 1995). 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). This approach also sheds light on some major typological parameters of crosslinguistic variation, including those involving the expression of transitivity and tense marking. 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 book that I wrote, Evolutionary Syntax (2015)by Oxford University Press: DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198736547.001.0001. The most succinct, focused, and reader-friendly 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).