I am interested in the biolinguistics program, from various perspectives. I was trained as a syntactician, although my previous studies had not concentrated on linguistics. It is through my earlier interests in economics and biology that I engaged in architectural and foundational aspects of language since I wrote my dissertation On Government.

I consider it the responsibility of any intellectual to offer their expertise to society, especially when their views can help shape public policy and address social justice. Most of my outreach activities concentrate on cultural politics and the defense of human diversity.

I am also very interested in informing academic debate and improving the lives and activities of academics, particularly inasmuch as this includes under-represented minorities. In my view, broadly construed diversity is essential to the human condition, and very directly responsible for breakthroughs in the arts and sciences.


CV: CV2021.pdf302.38 KB

I see the language faculty as presenting itself in three broad domains: its evolution in the species, its development in the individual, and its use in actual performance - where we gather most our data from. Data can however come from all those domains, and as our understanding of the psychological, neuro-biological and molecular bases of language deepen, there is hope in complementing our observational base with new sorts of insights.

In my work I study syntactic patterns with an eye on trying to understand what they may tell us about the broader questions that my research pursues. I have specialize mostly in Indo-European (particularly Romance) languages and Basque, presenting analyses from these arenas in a comparative way. I often attempt to relate conclusions reached in the area of syntax to work in the evolution of language or a variety of its performative aspects.

My latest work centers on analyzing syntactic operations in terms of matrix products of different sorts (understanding syntactic categories as feature matrices). These products create an interesting network of relations, where traditional notions (of connectivity, conservation-of-information, construal, etc.) can be studied in a predictive way that - I hope - can be tested in terms of the broad arenas alluded to above.

Research Methods
Research Interests
Nonlinear Control and Dynamics

Current Students

Self-portrait during COVID19
4125 Jiménez Hall
Neuroscience and Cognitive Science
juan [at] umd.edu