I’m a syntactician focused on morphosyntactic variation, a psycholinguist specializing in incremental sentence comprehension, and fieldworker with expertise in Georgian. I’m currently a postdoctoral fellow at USC. I was previously a postdoc in Princeton’s Program in Linguistics, after graduating from UC Santa Cruz in 2020. Here’s a pdf of my CV.

One perspective of my research addresses how language comprehenders leverage word-internal information (e.g., case morphology or animacy) to infer word-external syntactic relationships (e.g., subjecthood, subordination) in real time. This typically involves collecting behavioral data, like reading times and acceptability judgements. From another perspective, I theorize about why complex grammatical patterns might emerge across languages and across time. This involves a combination of linguistic fieldwork, corpus research, computational modeling, and combing grammatical descriptions of languages spoken around the world.

Several of my current research projects are collaborative experimental ventures. With Nino Amiridze, I am investigating morphological variation in a type of non-standard verbal compound in Georgian, which has theoretical ramifications for diachronic theories of inflectional restructuring and synchronic theories of wordbuilding. With Léa Nash, I am designing reading-time studies that will test how Georgian comprehenders use case to interpret long-distance wh-dependencies. And with Byron Ahn and Kirby Conrod, I am seeking correlations between behavioral data and sociolinguistic variables to understand ongoing grammatical change in the use of singular they.

I’ve also worked on phi-agreement, pronominal cliticization, and relative clauses. At UCSC, I was involved in several collaborative projects investigating Santiago Laxopa Zapotec and its rich grammar of animacy.

A life-long hobby of mine is visual art — take a look at some of my drawings and collages in the Art tab. I also have a fledgling YouTube channel, where I plan to post more linguistics content in the future.

Contact me at: foleysat uscdot edu