Assistant Professor of Linguistics
Adrian Stegovec earned his Ph.D. in linguistics from UConn in 2019. He previously studied at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia. His thesis, “Person on the edge: Lessons from crosslinguistic variation in syntactic person restrictions,” presents the findings of his investigation of over 100 languages for the combinations of pronouns they allow in a sentence. For example, in some languages it is possible to say “I saw them,” but not “they saw me.” The latter combination of pronouns can only be expressed in a passive sentence, like “I was seen by them.” Based on his findings, Stegovec proposes a new theory of how languages can and cannot combine multiple pronouns in a single sentence, which has broader implications for the study of natural language syntax. His work has been published, among other places, in Natural Language & Linguistic Theory and Natural Language Semantics, two major journals in the field of linguistics. He was a 2018-2019 dissertation fellow at the UConn Humanities Institute.
Q&A with Adrian Stegovec
What are your research interests?
I am interested in the problem of what are possible and impossible human languages. I study this by comparing large numbers of languages to identify the abstract patterns that govern their grammars.
How did you become interested in this type of work?
I was drawn to it because it approaches language as an object of study by using the same scientific method that is used in the natural sciences.
What courses will you be teaching this year?
I will teach an introductory graduate course on theoretical syntax (Syntax I) and an undergraduate course that is an introduction to linguistics as a science (The Science of Linguistics).
What drew you to UConn?
The same reason I came here as a graduate student: UConn has one of the best linguistics departments in the world, and the people in it are nice too.