Michelle's Homepage

Dr Michelle Sheehan 

Reader in Linguistics

Helmore 323
Department of English and Media
Arts, Law and Social Sciences
Anglia Ruskin University
East Road
Cambridge, CB1 1P

Email: michelle.sheehan@anglia.ac.uk

Since August 2017 I have been a Reader in Linguistics at Anglia Ruskin University, in Cambridge, UK. From August 2015-2017 I was a Senior Lecturer at the same institution.  

Before that, I studied for a degree in Modern Languages (Spanish and French) at the University of Oxford, an MA in Linguistics at the University of York and a PhD at Newcastle University and then worked as a researcher at the Universities of Newcastle, Durham and Cambridge. 

I am interested in the structure of language (syntactic theory), how languages vary and how we can model this variation (typology, comparative syntax) and how structure and meaning interact (syntax/semantics interface). I have a particular interest in languages descended from Latin (Romance languages), especially Spanish and Portuguese varieties and in the study of language universals from a variety of perspectives.  

Current projects

I have a major interest in causative and perception verbs

In a recent project, Sonia Cyrino and I looked at causative constructions (I made John cryin Spanish and Portuguese varieties from a synchronic and diachronic perspective (funded by the British Academy). We have a paper about this here and another paper in progress.We are particularly interested in the passivisation restriction in causatives (*Sue was let/seen leave) in other languages and taught a minicourse about this at MIT in November 2017. Please contact me if you are interested in the handouts! 

With Norma Schifano, I am studying the properties of Italian causatives, notably apparent instances of defective intervention when you embed volere under fare. We have a squib on this which I can share if you are interested. 

I am also trying to understand control from a cross-linguistic perspective:

With Marcel Pitteroff (University of Stuttgart), I am currently investigating partial control in French, German and English. We presented this at CGSW and NELS this year and I also pressed parts of this in an MIT colloquium talk. Please contact me if you are interested in the handouts!

In collaboration with M. Carmen Parafita Couto and Jeffrey Blokzijl (Leiden University), I am investigating the use of inflected infinitives in Galician and Portuguese. We presented this at LSRL and the paper is under review.

With Christina Sevdali (Ulster University), I also am investigating finite control in Greek and Romanian. A squib on this topic is accepted to appear in a Language Sciences volume. 

Finally, I'm also still intrigued by variation in case and agreement.
I am also working with John Williams (University of Cambridge) and Albertyna Paciorek (Krakow) on artificial language learning experiments related to case and alignment (originally funded by a Cambridge Humanities Research Grant). Our first paper has been accepted to appear in Glossa after minor revisions. I will post it when it is ready. 

I am also working on syntactic ergativity in Mayan languages with Jamie Douglas (University of Cambridge) and Rodrigo Ranero (Maryland). To read a paper about this click here. We're writing up a longer version, so comments are very welcome!

In another project, I've been investigating how case/agreement interact with A-bar extraction in ditransitives (with Anders Holmberg & Jenneke van der Wal). To read the revised version of our paper click here. This paper is currently under review.

With András Bárány, I am considering challenges for dependent case.  

I'm also working on passives (with Ian Roberts). The paper is still in preparation so watch this space!

Other things I am interested in and always thinking about are: subjecthood in Romance languages, word order, extraction restrictions, case and agreement, restructuring and micro-variation across Romance languages.  

I'd be very happy to hear from you in you are interested in any of the above projects or if you are a student interested in studying something syntax-related at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, UK, or a student/academic interested in visiting us. We have a beautiful modern campus in the centre of Cambridge, come and see!