Linguistics Department

University of Florida

contact info  | research interests  |  selected papers  |  projects  | courses  |  CV  | 

Contact Information

Linguistics Department
P.O. Box 115454
University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida 32611

office: (352) 294-7456
fax: (352) 392-8480
e-mail: potsdam AT

4121 Turlington

Research Interests
  •     syntactic theory 
  •     clause structure 
  •     raising and control
  •     wh-question strategies
  •     ellipsis
  •     Austronesian languages


Selected Publications and Manuscripts

Austronesian Wh-Questions
Potsdam, Eric. 2012. Which Questions in Malagasy. UCLA Working Papers in Linguistics, Theories of everything: In honor of Ed Keenan 17, 360-366.

Potsdam, Eric. 2009.  Austronesian Verb-Initial Languages and Wh-Question Strategies. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 27, 737-771.

Potsdam, Eric. 2007.  Malagasy Sluicing and Its Consequences for the Identity Requirement on Ellipsis. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 25, 577-613.

Potsdam, Eric. 2006. More Concealed Pseudoclefts and the Clausal Typing Hypothesis. Lingua 116, 2154-2182.

Potsdam, Eric. 2006. The Cleft Structure of Malagasy Wh-Questions. In Hans-Martin Gärtner, Paul Law, and Joachim Sabel (eds.). Clause Structure and Adjuncts in Austronesian Languages. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 195-232.


Polynesian Syntax
Potsdam, Eric and Maria Polinsky. 2012.  The Syntax of the Tahitian Actor Emphatic Construction. Oceanic Linguistics 51, 58-85

Potsdam, Eric and Maria Polinsky. 2011.  Questions and Word Order in Polynesian. In Claire Moyse-Faurie and Joachim Sabel (eds.). Topics in Oceanic Morphosyntax. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 83-109.


(Backward) Control and Raising
Potsdam, Eric and Youssef A. Haddad. 2017. Control Phenomena. In Martin Everaert and Henk C. van Riemsdijk (eds.). The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Syntax. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Potsdam, Eric and Maria Polinsky. 2015. Control into nominalized complements in Malagasy. In Amber Camp, Yuko Otsuka, Claire Stabile, and Nozomi Tanaka (eds.). Proceedings of the 21st Meeting of the Austronesian Formal Linguistics Association, 261-278.

Polinsky, Maria and Eric Potsdam. 2013. Diagnosing Covert A-Movement. In Lisa Cheng and Norbert Corver (eds.). Diagnosing Syntax. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 210-234.

Haddad, Youssef A. and Eric Potsdam. 2013. Linearizing the Control Relation: A Typology. In Theresa Biberauer and Ian Roberts (eds.). Principles of Linearization. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Polinsky, Maria and Eric Potsdam. 2013. Diagnosing covert A-movement. In Lisa Cheng and Norbert Corver (eds.). Diagnosing Syntax. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 210-234.

Potsdam, Eric, and Maria Polinsky. 2012. Backward Raising. Syntax, 75-108.

Potsdam, Eric and Maria Polinsky. 2011. Against Covert A-Movement in Russian Unaccusatives. Linguistic Inquiry 42, 345-355.

Potsdam, Eric. 2009.  Malagasy Backward Object ControlLanguage 85, 754-784.

Polinsky, Maria and Eric Potsdam. 2008.  The Syntax and Semantics of Wanting in IndonesianLingua 118, 1617-1639.

Potsdam, Eric and Maria Polinsky. 2007.  Missing Complement Clause Subjects in Malagasy. Oceanic Linguistics 46, 277-308.

Polinsky, Maria and Eric Potsdam. 2006. Expanding the Scope of Control and Raising. Syntax 9, 171-192.

Polinsky, Maria and Eric Potsdam. 2002. Backward Control: Evidence from MalagasyMIT Working Papers in Linguistics 44, 257-272.

Polinsky, Maria and Eric Potsdam. 2002. Backward Control. Linguistic Inquiry 33, 24-282.

English Syntax
Potsdam, Eric. 2013. CP Negation and the Domain of Quantifier Raising. Linguistic Inquiry 44, 674-684.

Potsdam, Eric. 2007. Analysing Word Order in the English Imperative. In Wim van der Wurff (ed.). Imperative Clauses in Generative Grammar. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 251-272.

Potsdam, Eric. 1997. NegP and Subjunctive Complements in English. Linguistic  Inquiry 28, 533-541.

Potsdam, Eric. 1997. English Verbal Morphology and VP Ellipsis. In The Proceedings of the 27th Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society.Amherst, Ma.: GLSA, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 353-368.

Potsdam, Eric. 1995. Phrase Structure of the English Imperative. In The Proceedings of the Sixth Annual Meeting of the Formal Linguistics Society of Midamerica. Bloomington: Indiana University Linguistics Club Publications, 143-154.

Potsdam, Eric. 1998.  Syntactic Issues in the English Imperative. New York: Garland Publishing Co.


"Collaborative Research: Variation in Control Structures". This National Science Foundation-funded project was joint work with Maria Polinsky at Harvard University. The project time period was March 2002 to August 2006.

Control constructions have been at the fore of syntactic and semantic theorizing for the last thirty years, and the research into the syntax and semantics of Control constructions has led to important results in the domain of clausal complementation. Most theoretical research on Control has built heavily on the facts of English and a small number of other well-studied, typologically similar languages. Such theories of Control account for the canonical English Control pattern, Sandy tried _ to remain calm.The core property of this construction is a Forward Control relation: an obligatory interpretational dependency between an overt argument NP and a lower unpronounced argument in the complement clause. In the proposed study, we will investigate variation in the structural realization of this Control relation which we believe is cross-linguistically attested and which we also believe has important implications for syntactic theory. A Backward Control relation is a similar, obligatory interpretational dependency in which the overt argument NP is in the lower position and the higher argument is unpronounced. Backward Control has been proposed in the literature for constructions in Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, Tsez (Nakh-Dagestanian), Korean, Malagasy, and other languages.

The goal of this project is to explore the empirical and theoretical issues surrounding Backward Control phenomena. In the empirical domain, we will further document Backward Control constructions cross-linguistically. We will carry out in-depth investigations of attested Backward Control structures across several selected languages and, with the aid of graduate and undergraduate research assistants, we will seek out additional examples and simultaneously develop a database of control patterns in selected language families. In the theoretical domain, we will examine the implications of our empirical findings for existing theories of Control and for syntactic theory more generally. Theoretical work will center on whether or not current theories permit the structures that we document and, if they do not, what modifications are necessary to permit the range of observed variation while still maintaining restrictiveness. Overall, the proposed project will contribute to an understanding of the range of variation in Control structures that are attested in natural language. 


Spring 2018

LIN 4930/6520 Syntax 2

course websites on Canvas



LIN 3010   Introduction to Linguistics

LIN 3460    Structure of Human Language

LIN 4400/6402    Introduction to Morphology/Morphology 1

LIN 4500/6501   Introduction to Syntax/Syntax 1

LIN 4930/6165    Field Methods

LIN 6520    Issues in Syntax/Syntax 2

LIN 6932     Seminar in Syntax



Curriculum Vitae


current CV (January 2018)

Last Revised: February 13, 2018

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