Rebecca Shields

Position title: Instructional Administrator


1166 Van Hise Hall

Language Sciences


Ph.D. Linguistics, UW-Madison, 2009
M.A. Russian Philology, Moscow State University, 1999
B.A. Russian, Macalester College, 1996

Research Statement

My research focuses on theoretical syntax and the syntax-semantics interface. I am interested in the syntactic expression of semantically-defined categories such as modals, aspectual markers, adverbials, definites/specifics, and wh-questions. Much of my research has focused on the interaction of syntactic locality constraints (Relativized Minimality, Intervention Effects, and Weak Crossover) on various types of semantically motivated movement (including wh-movement, scrambling, and topicalization). My main languages of research have been English and Russian, but I have also written about other languages including Menominee and Japanese. An ongoing project is a cross-linguistic investigation of the syntax of Discourse-Linked (specific) nominals.

I am also interested in Irish Gaelic (Gaeilge), and in my free time teach and facilitate Irish language classes at UW-Madison, with the community group Ciorcal Comhrá na Cuinge (The Isthmus Conversation Circle), and at the annual Tionól Gaeilge (Irish Language Gathering) at the UW-Milwaukee Center for Celtic Studies.

Administrative Roles

As Instructional Administrator, I serve as our unit’s Undergraduate Advisor, Graduate Program Coordinator, Curricular and Enrollment Representative, and Website and Communications manager.


Ling 101: Human Language
Anthro/Ling 301: Introduction to Linguistics
Ling 330: Syntax
Ling 340: Semantics
Beginning Irish Gaelic 1 & 2 (offered as an independent study)

Selected Publications

2012. Scrambling and the feature-based approach to Minimality. Formal Approaches to Slavic Linguistics 19: The Maryland Meeting. Michigan Slavic Publications, pp. 85-98.

2012. (with Yafei Li and Vivian Lin) Adverb Classes and the Nature of Minimality. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 30:1, 217-260.

2009. Intervention and Rescue: Arguments for Representational Constraints on Syntactic Dependencies. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

2008. The Functional Hierarchy in Menominee: Preverbs and Adverbs. CLS 41: The Main Session, Rodney L. Edwards, et al., eds., 431-444. Chicago: The Chicago Linguistic Society.

2006. Modal Repair. NELS 35: Proceedings of the 35th annual meeting of the North East Linguistic Society. Leah Bateman and Cherlon Ussery, eds. Amherst, Mass.: GLSA.

2005. Menominee Preverbs as Functional Categories. Papers of the 36th Algonquian Conference.

2004. Word Order and Discourse in Menominee. Papers of the 35th Algonquian Conference, H. C. Wolfart, ed, 373-388. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba.