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

Rebecca’s research focuses on syntax and the syntax-semantics interface. She has investigated the structure of modals, verb aspect, adverbs, definite noun phrases, and wh-questions. This research explores the interaction of syntactic locality constraints (Relativized Minimality, Intervention Effects, and Weak Crossover) with various types of semantically motivated movement (including wh-movement, scrambling, and topicalization). Her main languages of study have been English and Russian, and she has 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.

Irish Language Revitalization

Rebecca is a speaker/learner of Irish Gaelic (Gaeilge), a heritage language in her family. She teaches 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. She is engaged in several projects to create interactive online learning materials for adult learners of Irish.

Administrative Roles

As Instructional Administrator, Rebecca serves as Undergraduate Advisor for the Linguistics major, Curricular Representative for Linguistics courses, and manager of the Language Sciences website.


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)

Beginning Irish Gaelic 1 - Fall 2023 - Mondays 4:35-5:25

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.