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Marcel den Dikken
Position: Professor of Linguistics
Campus Affiliation: CUNY Graduate Center
Degrees/Diplomas: Ph.D., University of Leiden
Research Interests: Syntax, and its interface with morphology

Research Interests

Principles-and-parameters based research in syntax and its interfaces with morphology and semantics, with particular emphasis on:

  • the syntactic representation of predication and the processes that predicates undergo in syntax  
  • the representation and distribution of copular elements
  • < the internal structure of the noun phrase
  • the syntax of possession
  • the syntax of transitivity alternations and the "light verb" structure of transitive clauses
  • the syntax of pronouns and agreement
  • the syntax of locative and directional adpositional phrases
  • the syntax and interpretation of questions and question words
  • the distribution of polarity items (including so-called "aggressively non-D-linked" wh-phrases)
  • the syntax of co-ordination and either/or, both/and
  • the syntax of comparative correlatives
  • the locality of syntactic dependencies (phases, Phase Extension, vacuous movement)
  • the comparative morpho-syntax of Appalachian English (NSF-funded Collaborative Research, with Judy Bernstein, Christina Tortora, and Raffaella Zanuttini -- September 2006 - August 2008) [to be redirected to the webpage for the Appalachian English syntax project, please click here]

Languages studied include varieties of English, West-Germanic languages, Romance languages, Hungarian, Modern Greek, Amharic, Rotuman, Telugu, Mandarin Chinese, and Thai.


Course Materials

Part I of the Syntax I PowerPoint presentation
Part II of the Syntax I PowerPoint presentation
Part III of the Syntax I PowerPoint presentation
Part IV of the Syntax I PowerPoint presentation
Part I of the Syntax II PowerPoint presentation
Part II of the Syntax II PowerPoint presentation
Part III of the Syntax II PowerPoint presentation
Part IV of the Syntax II PowerPoint presentation
Part V of the Syntax II PowerPoint presentation
Part VI of the Syntax II PowerPoint presentation

Recent publications and manuscripts

For a complete list of publications, please click here.

Wat dacht je wat? On the strategies for the formation of long-distance dependencies in constituent questions. (with Hans Bennis; public lecture at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, 15 October 2009.)
On the nature and distribution of successive cyclicity.
Predication and specification in the syntax of cleft sentences.
Subject agreement variation: Support for the configurational approach. (to appear in Lingua)


A cleft palette: On the landscape of cleft constructions and their syntactic derivations. Detailed handout for an invited talk presented at the Cleft Workshop 2008 (ZAS Berlin, 29 November 2008).
Directions from the GET-GO: On the syntax of manner-of-motion verbs in directional constructions. Detailed handout for invited talks at the 10th Seoul International Conference on Generative Grammar (Seoul, 17-20 July 2008) and the conference on Expressions of Posture and Motion in Germanic Languages (Brussels, 24 October 2008).
Small Clauses, Phases, and Phase Extension - The Case of Scope and Object Shift (presented at 31st GLOW Colloquium)
So So (presented at SQUID 3, Linguistics Program, CUNY Graduate Center)


The Tense of Resultatives: The Case of Korean (co-authored with Ji Young Shim; presented at NELS38 and JK17)
Data and Grammar: Means and Individuals (co-authored with Judy B. Bernstein, Christina Tortora & Raffaella Zanuttini) [This paper is a commentary on Featherston, Sam (2007) "Data in generative grammar: The stick and the carrot"; to appear, together with the Featherston target article, in Theoretical Linguistics.]
Questionnaire study on Dutch that-trace effects: Stimuli and results
Phase Extension: A reply. (to appear, Theoretical Linguistics, 2007)
Review of Frascarelli (2006). (Journal of Linguistics 43:1)


Relators and Linkers: The syntax of predication, Predicate Inversion, and copulas (MIT Press)
A reappraisal of vP being phasal: A reply to Legate (ms.)
Phase extension: Contours of a theory of the role of head movement in phrasal extraction (ms.)
On the functional structure of locative and directional PPs (ms.; revised version of 2003 ms. on adpositional phrases)
Comparative correlatives and successive cyclicity (ms.)
When Hungarians agree (to disagree): The fine art of 'phi' and 'art' (ms.)
P-drop, D-drop, D-spread (ms.; co-authored with Alexandra Ioannidou)
Amharic relatives and possessives: Definiteness, agreement and the linker (to appear, Linguistic Inquiry)
Vacuous movement in focus -- On the syntax of highest-subject
wh-questions and relative clauses
(ms.; presented at GLOW Barcelona, 8
April 2006)

Ellipsis and EPP repair (to appear, Linguistic Inquiry; co-authored with Jeroen van Craenenbroeck)
Either-float and the syntax of co-or-dination (Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 24:3)
Parasitism, secondary triggering, and depth of embedding (in Raffaella Zanuttini, Hector Campos, Elena Herburger & Paul Portner, eds, Cross-linguistic research in syntax and semantics: Negation, tense, and clausal architecture. Georgetown University Press)


The function of function words and functional categories (Benjamins; co-edited with Christina Tortora)
Comparative correlatives comparatively (Linguistic Inquiry 36:4)
Transparent, free... and polarised: The (poli)tics of polarity in transparent free relatives (in Hans Broekhuis, Norvert Corver, Riny Huybregts, Ursula Kleinhenz & Jan Koster, eds, Organizing grammar. Linguistic studies in honor of Henk van Riemsdijk. Mouton de Gruyter)
Specificational copular sentences and pseudoclefts (in Martin Everaert & Henk van Riemsdijk, eds, The Blackwell Companion to Syntax. Blackwell. Vol. IV, Chapter 61; part 1 and part 2 of the 2001 ms. available on-line)
A comment on the topic of topic-comment (Lingua 115:5)
Review of Anagnostopoulou (2003), The syntax of ditransitives: Evidence from clitics (Language 81:4)


Complex noun phrases and linkers (Syntax 7:1; co-authored with Pornsiri Singhapreecha)
Agreement and 'clause union' (in Katalin É. Kiss & Henk van Riemsdijk, eds, Verb clusters: A study of Hungarian, German and Dutch. Benjamins)
Light switches (ms., co-authored with Shoba Bandi-Rao; to appear in MIT Press volume ed. by Jeff MacSwan)
Relating the predicate to its subject (ms., co-authored with Ana Longenecker)


The structure of the noun phrase in Rotuman (LINCOM Studies in Austronesian Linguistics 05, LINCOM Europa)
Comparative correlatives and Verb Second (in 'webschrift' for Hans den Besten)
On the syntax of locative and directional adpositional phrases (ms.; largely superseded by 2006 paper on PP syntax)
When particles won't part (ms.)
Review of Katalin É. Kiss (2002), The Syntax of Hungarian (Language 79:4; co-authored with Anikó Lipták)
On the morphosyntax of wh-movement (in Cedric Boeckx & Kleanthes Grohmann, eds, Multiple Wh-Fronting. Benjamins)
Lexical integrity, checking and the mirror: A checking approach to syntactic word formation (JCGL 6)


From hell to polarity: "Aggressively non-D-linked" wh-phrases as polarity items (Linguistic Inquiry 33:1; co-authored with Anastasia Giannakidou)
Direct and parasitic polarity item licensing (JCGL 5:1)
Review of Particle Verbs and Local Domains by Jochen Zeller (JCGL 4:2)
Agreement (The Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. Nature Publishing Group, Macmillan Publishers)
Islands (in Lisa Cheng & Rint Sybesma, eds, The Second State-of-the-Article Book. Mouton de Gruyter; co-authored with Anna Szabolcsi)


Clitic climbing in Spanish imperatives (co-authored with Mariví Blasco) to appear in W. van der Wurff (ed.), Imperative clauses in generative grammar: Studies offered to Frits Beukema. Amsterdam: John Benjamins
On inclusive reference anaphora (co-authored with Anikó Lipták and Zsófia Zvolenszky) in K. Megerdoomian & L.A. Bar-El (eds), WCCFL 20 Proceedings. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press. 137-49
'Pluringulars', pronouns and quirky agreement in The Linguistic Review 18. 19-41



Born 13 December 1965, in Heemskerk, the Netherlands


  • Dutch

Native language

  • Dutch


  • MA ("doctoraaldiploma") December 1988, University of Leiden (the Netherlands); thesis title: "The syntax of movement rules affecting verbs and verbal constituents" (cum laude)
  • PhD December 1992, University of Leiden (the Netherlands); thesis title: "Particles" (cum laude)
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