Michelle's Homepage

Prof Michelle Sheehan 

Professor of Linguistics

Helmore 323
Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Anglia Ruskin University
East Road
Cambridge, CB1 1PT

Email: michelle.sheehan@aru.ac.uk

Since January 2020 I am Professor of Linguistics at Anglia Ruskin University, in Cambridge, UK, having previously been Reader (2017-2019) and Senior Lecturer (2015-2017) 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 post-doctoral 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! The NELS paper is available on lingbuzz. 

With Anna Pineda and Norma Schifano, I've been investigating transitivity in Romance causatives, especially in Catalan and Italian. A short paper about this will appear soon. Contact me if you would like a preview!

More recently, I have started looking at the evolution of the French faire-infinitif. 

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

With Marcel Pitteroff (University of Stuttgart) and Jutta Hartmann, 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! The NELS version is available on lingbuzz.

I'm also interested in partial control in English, and am currently writing up new experimental data on this topic for a edited collection. 

In collaboration with M. Carmen Parfait Couto, Jeffrey Blokzijl (Leiden University) and Martin Schäfer (Tübingen), I have been investigating the use of inflected infinitives in Galician. The results are published in Frontiers. 

I'm also still intrigued by variation in case and agreement.

With András Bárány, I am considering challenges for dependent case. We presented this at GLOW in 2019 and we are currently writing up the paper. 

In an exciting new project with John Williams (Cambridge) and Maia Duguine (CNRS), we are planning an artificial language experiment on Basque speakers funded by an ARU Research and Innovation Collaboration grant. 

Finally, with Alice Corr (Birmingham), Anna Having (Bristol) Jonathan Kasstan (Westminster) and Norma Schifano (Birmingham), I lead the Linguistics in Modern Foreign Languages project, which aims to promote the use of linguistics as part of MFL in schools. We have received funding for this from Language Acts and from PhilSoc.
A position piece about UK A-levels is published in Language, Society and Policy.

We are currently writing up the initial results of our schools-based project, so watch this space...

I'm an external collaborator on the ANR-DFG project 'Uncovering verb-second effects. An interface-based typology' (led by Maia Duguine, CNRS-IKER) and on the SSHRC project 'The nature of parameters: representing language universals and language variation' (led by Lisa Travis, McGill University).

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!