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You are here: Home / People / Michael T. Putnam

Michael T. Putnam

Michael T. Putnam

Associate Professor of German and Linguistics



Lab Affiliation: Language Contact & Change

The principal aim of the research conducted in our lab group is to explore varieties of German in multilingual speakers and communities across the lifespan. In addition to research on heritage variants of German (also commonly referred to as Sprachinseln), we also are interested in L1 attrition, natural L2 acquisition of German, as well as L2 attrition. Our research welcomes and engages in formal, functional, and experimental approaches to the linguistic analysis of bi- and multilingualism and, more specifically, German in contact with other languages and cultures.

Research Interests:

My research is interested in how the general architecture of cognition intersects with grammatical knowledge and performance biases. I research the structure (syntax & morphology) and meaning (semantics & pragmatics) of language and the intersection of these two units, with an empirical focus on Germanic languages past and present. I have a particular interest in bilingual and multilingual grammars, especially varieties of German throughout the world in contact situations with other languages.


Recent Publications: 


Legendre, G., Putnam, M., de Swart, H., & Zaroukian, E. (Eds.) (to appear). Advances in OT-syntax and semantics/pragmatics: From uni- to bidirectional optimization. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Page, R.B., & Putnam, M. (Eds.) (to appear). Moribund Germanic heritage languages in North America: Theoretical perspectives and empirical findings. London: Brill.

Fábregas, A., Mateu, J., & Putnam, M. (Eds.) (to appear). The linguistic handbook of parameters. London: Bloomsbury.

Stroik, T. & Putnam, M. (2013) The structural design of language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Putnam, M. (Ed.) (2011) Studies on German-language islands. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Putnam, M. (Ed.) (2010) Exploring crash-proof grammars. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Putnam, M. (Ed.) (2009) Towards a derivational syntax: Survive-minimalism. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Putnam, M. (2007) Scrambling and the Survive Principle. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.


Articles & Book chapters:

Bousquette, J., Putnam, M., Frey, B., Salmons, J., & Nützel, D. (to appear) Multilingual grammar, dominance, and optimization. Advances in OT-syntax and semantics/pragmatics: From uni- to bidirectional optimization, G. Legendre, M. Putnam, H. de Swart, & E. Zaroukian, eds., Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Brown, J. & Putnam, M. (to appear) Functional convergence and extension in contact: Syntactic and semantic attributes of the progressive aspect in Pennsylvania Dutch. In Germanic heritage languages in North America: Acquisition and change. eds. Joseph Salmons & Janne Johannessen. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Chocano, G. & Putnam, M. (to appear) Are all phases created equal? An investigation of Feature Inheritance in connection with Icelandic Quantifier Movement. Linguistic Analysis 38.3-4: 1-42.

Bidese, G. & Putnam, M. (2014) The vulnerability of the C-layer: Introductory notes on German complementizers in contact. Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung (STuF) 67.4: 437-443.

Putnam, M. & Schwarz, L. (2014) How interrogative pronouns can become relative pronouns: The case of was in Misionero German. Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung (STuF) 67.4: 613-625.

Fábregas, A. & Putnam, M. (2014) The emergence of middle voice structures with and without agents. The Linguistic Review 31.2: 193-240.

Putnam, M. & Sánchez, L. (2013) What's so incomplete about incomplete acquisition? A prolegomenon to modeling heritage language grammars. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism 3.4: 476-506.

Putnam, M. & Salmons, J. (2013) Losing their (passive) voice: Syntactic neutralization in heritage German.Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism 3.4: 476-506.

Fábregas, A. & Putnam, M. (2013) Parasitic semantics (or why Swedish can't lexicalize middle voice constructions). Proceedings from Penn Linguistics Collquium (PLC) 36, 19.1: 51-58.

Chocano, G. & Putnam, M. (2013) Filling in the gaps: PF-optimalization in parasitic gap constructions in Dutch and German. In Filtering the Derivation. eds. Ralf Vogel & Hans Broekhuis. London: Equinox. pp. 54-75.

Putnam, M. (2012) Dative case maintenance in Moundridge Schweitzer German via restructuring. Zeitschrift fuer Dialektologie und Linguistik 1.79: 41-76.

Osborne, T., Putnam, M. & Gross, T. (2012) Catenae: Introducing a novel unit of syntactic analysis. Syntax15.4: 354-396.

Biskup, P. & Putnam, M. (2012) One P with two Spell-Outs: the ent/aus-alternation in German. Linguistic Analysis 38.1-2: 69-109.

Putnam, M. & Gast, V. (2012) The syntax and semantics of excess: OVER-predicates in Germanic.Proceedings from WCCFL 29, J. Choi, E.A. Hogue, J. Punske, D. Tat, J. Schertz, and A. Trueman, eds., Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press, pp. 223-231.

Putnam, M. & Stroik, T. (2011) Syntax at ground zero. Linguistic Analysis 37.3-4: 389-404.

Osborne, T., Putnam, M. & Gross, T. (2011) Bare Phrase Structure, Label-less Trees, and Specifier-less Syntax: Is Minimalism Becoming a Dependency Grammar? The Linguistic Review 28.3: 315-364.

Putnam, M. & van Koppen, M. (2011) All there is to know about the alls-construction. Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics 14.2: 81-109.

Putnam, M. (2011) Anaphors in contact: The distribution of intensifiers and reflexives in Amana German. InStudies on German-language islands, ed. Michael T. Putnam. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 111-128.

Putnam, M. & Parafita Couto, M.C. (2009) When grammars collide: contact linguistics from a Survive-perspective. In Towards a Derivational Syntax: Survive-minimalism, ed. M. Putnam, Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 139-176.

Stroik, T. & Putnam, M. (2009). Surviving reconstruction. In Phases at the Interface [Interface Explorations 17]. Kleanthes K. Grohmann, ed. Berlin: de Gruyter, pp. 161-181.

Putnam, M. (2005) An Anti-Local Account of Why Scrambled Dative Objects Can’t Bind Anaphors in German.SKY Journal of Linguistics, 287-309.