Rebecca Shields

Position title: Instructional Administrator


1166 Van Hise Hall

Becky Shields

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 D-Linked (specific) nominals.

I am also interested in Irish Gaelic (Gaeilge), and in my free time teach and facilitate Irish language classes 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

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.