Personal

I’m a first generation student, native of Germany, dog person (proud owner of two Small Munsterlanders), compulsive note taker and doodler, coffee drinker, audio book addict, and mother of a bilingual (German/English) teenager. 

I didn’t plan to become a linguist (does anyone?), but when I stumbled into my first syntax class as an English major (at the University of Göttingen in Germany) and saw my first X-bar tree diagrams, I was hooked.

I also never planned to live in the US, but in the summer of 1998 a Fulbright fellowship took me to NYU and I ended up tagging on a visit to Madison to give a talk about my dissertation. What a beautiful, vibrant campus in a city that looks different every season! When the English Department advertised a tenure-track position in English syntax shortly thereafter, I applied, and, against all odds, was chosen for the position.

Linguistically, I was, and still am, intrigued by the relationship between form and meaning, but I’ve moved away a bit from formal syntactic theory to take on questions around how grammar works in discourse. Unlike many other linguists, I’m also quite interested in the public perception of grammar (hence my ongoing book project on “Bad Grammar”). My favorite English words include the nouns serendipity, a word coined by author Horace Walpole based on his story “The Three Princes of Serendip,” and comeuppance (both for what it means and for how it is formed), as well as the interjection alas (which I probably overuse).