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Department of English Language and Literature


Stanley Dubinsky

Title: Professor
Department: English Language and Literature
College of Arts and Sciences
Phone: 803-777-2208
Office: HUO, Room 218
Resources: Curriculum Vitae [PDF]
English Language and Literature
Jewish Studies Program
Linguistics Program
Stanley Dubinsky


PhD in Linguistics, Cornell University, 1985
MA in East Asian Literature (Chinese), Cornell University, 1981
BA in East Asian Studies (Chinese) and Spanish and Latin American Studies (literature), The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 1978


Syntactic Theory
Semantics/mathematical linguistics
Language and politics
General Linguistics


Introduction to Language Sciences
Language Conflict and Language Rights
Language and Humor
Mathematical Linguistics
Introduction to Syntax
Introduction to Morphology
Syntactic Theory
The Evolution of Linguistic Theory, Practice, and Methods


    Finalist, Mungo Graduate Teaching Award, 2007.
    Russell Research Award for Humanities and Social Sciences, 2006.
    Finalist, Mungo Graduate Teaching Award, 2006.
    Excellence in Teaching Award, South Carolina Alpha Chapter of Mortar Board, 2002.
    Sims Teaching Excellence Award, 2002.

Research Projects 

My primary area of research is syntactic theory and the syntax-semantics interface. I have produced three books, four edited volumes, and several dozen articles and book chapters on a variety of topics – largely on the syntax and semantics of various languages, including English, Japanese, Korean, Bulgarian, Hebrew, and two Bantu languages (Chichewa and Lingala). My 2004 Blackwell book, co-authored with William D. Davies, is titled The Grammar of Raising and Control: A Course in Syntactic Argumentation, and was followed in 2007 by an edited collection with Springer, New Horizons in the Analysis of Control and Raising. My two most recent co-authored books are Understanding Language through Humor (2011, Cambridge University Press), and Language Conflict and Language Rights: Ethnolinguistic Perspectives on Human Conflict (2018, Cambridge University Press). I am currently engaged in two digital projects. One with Michael Gavin and Harvey Starr is called the Language Conflict Project [] and seeks to analyze through measures of Linguistic Distance and a Language Freedom Index, the role of language in intrastate ethnolinguistic political conflict. The other is called the Wordification® Project [] and is developing an online instructional spelling application which is designed to improve English spelling ability and advance literacy, with a particular focus on students who are speakers of English dialects or are non-native speakers of English.



As the colonial hegemony of empire fades around the world, the role of language in ethnic conflict has become increasingly topical, as have issues concerning the right of speakers to choose and use their preferred language(s).  Such rights are often asserted and defended in response to their being violated. The importance of understanding these events and issues, and their relationship to individual, ethnic, and national identity, is central to research and debate in a range of fields outside of, as well as within, linguistics. This book provides a clearly written introduction for linguists and non-specialists alike, presenting basic facts about the role of language in the formation of identity and the preservation of culture. It articulates and explores categories of conflict and language rights abuses through detailed presentation of illustrative case studies, and distills from these key cross-linguistic and cross-cultural generalizations.

The Middle East conflict system is perhaps the world’s most important and intractable problem area, whose developments carry global consequences. An effective investigation of the context and change in the region calls for a melding of academic approaches, methods and findings with policy oriented needs. The Israeli Conflict System brings together leading conflict scholars primarily from political science, applying a range of advanced, rigorous analytic and data-gathering techniques to address this single empirical domain—the contemporary Israeli Conflict System. Recognising the causal complexity of this conflict system, the volume’s central theme is that the system’s current conditions are best understood in their broader temporal/historic, cultural/linguistic, and spatial/geographic contexts. Through the lens of economic, geographic, historical, linguistic, and political analyses, and the application of data analysis, experiments, simulations, and models of rational choice, this volume shows how diverse disciplinary perspectives and methodologies can complement each other effectively. In this way, its chapters provide a model for the integration of factors and contexts necessary for understanding contemporary world politics, and a sampling of theories, approaches, and methods that are applicable, useful, or valid under different conditions. This book offers a cutting-edge resource for scholars and students of Political Science, International Relations, Conflict Studies and Middle East Studies.

Students often struggle to understand linguistic concepts through examples of language data provided in class or in texts. Presented with ambiguous information, students frequently respond that they do not 'get it'. The solution is to find an example of humour that relies on the targeted ambiguity. Once they laugh at the joke, they have tacitly understood the concept, and then it is only a matter of explaining why they found it funny. Utilizing cartoons and jokes illustrating linguistic concepts, this book makes it easy to understand these concepts, while keeping the reader's attention and interest. Organized like a course textbook in linguistics, it covers all the major topics in a typical linguistics survey course, including communication systems, phonetics and phonology, morphemes, words, phrases, sentences, language use, discourses, child language acquisition and language variation, while avoiding technical terminology.

Raising and control have figured in every comprehensive model of syntax for forty years. Recent renewed attention to them makes this collection a timely one. The contributions, representing some of the most exciting recent work, address many fundamental research questions. What beside the canonical constructions might be subject to raising or control analyses? What constructions traditionally treated as raising or control might not actually be so? What classes of control must be recognized? How do tense, agreement, or clausal completeness figure in their distribution? The chapters address these and other relevant issues, and bring new empirical data into focus.

The Grammar of Raising and Control surveys analyses across a range of theoretical frameworks from Rosenbaum's classic Standard Theory analysis (1967) to current proposals within the Minimalist Program, and provides readers with a critical understanding of these, helping them in the process to develop keen insights into the strengths and weaknesses of syntactic arguments in general.

The papers in this volume examine the current role of grammatical functions in transformational syntax in two ways: (i) through largely theoretical considerations of their status, and (ii) through detailed analyses for a wide variety of languages. Taken together the chapters in this volume present a comprehensive view of how transformational syntax characterizes the elusive but often useful notions of subject and object, examining how subject and object properties are distributed among various functional projections, converging sometimes in particular languages.


   • (with Lexington Whalen, Dalton Craven, Shashank Comandur, Nathan Bickel, and Homayoun Valafar). Wordification: A new way of teaching English spelling patterns. 2023 World Congress in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, & Applied Computing (CSCE'23). July 2023.
   • (with Anyssa Murphy). Classical Greek object cases: A corpus-driven analysis of their distribution. Journal of Greek Linguistics 23(1): 97-126.
   • (with Rabbi Hesh Epstein). How Hebrew kept us a people. Tablet Magazine ( May 19, 2023.
   • (with Rabbi Hesh Epstein). When God cries: Why the mysterious sound we heard at Sinai is a haunting reminder of divine love. Tablet Magazine ( February 10, 2023.
   • (with Keunhyung Park). L2 interpretation of Negative Polar Questions (NPQs): Evidence from on-line experiments. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 8(1). Washington DC: LSA.
   • (with Anyssa Murphy, Lex Whalen, Michael Gavin, John Bailyn, and Jackson Ginn). On “historical unity” of Russian and Ukrainian: A linguistic perspective on language conflict and change. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 8(1). Washington DC: LSA.  

   • (with Angelina Rubina). Morpho-syntactic, contextual, and lexical determinants of non-referentiality in Russian. Journal of Slavic Linguistics 30(1): 109-144.
   • (with Harvey Starr). Weaponizing language: Linguistic vectors of ethnic oppression. Special issue: Cruelty and Global Politics. Global Studies Quarterly 2(2): ksab051.
   • (with Michael Gavin, AJ Murphy, and Harvey Starr). Conflicts over language stretch far beyond Russia and Ukraine. The Conversation: Politics and Society. May 23, 2022.
   • (with Rabbi Hesh Epstein). A tale of two Totafot: On the mysterious and much debated origins of a seminal Biblical term. Tablet Magazine ( January 7, 2022.
   • (with Jiyeon Song and So Young Lee). Event- and type-plurality of the anti-quantifier -ssik in Korean. 2022 Linearization: Proceedings of the 24th Seoul International Conference on Generative Grammar (SICOGG 24): 166-175. Seoul, Korea: Korea National Open University (KNOU).
   • (with Keunhyung Park). Subjacency effects on overt wh-movement in wh-in-situ languages: Evidence for nominal structure. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 7(1): 5222. Washington DC: LSA.  

   • (with Keunhyung Park). [+Agent] conditioned Case assignment to nominalized VPs in Korean LFN constructions. Linguistic Research 38(1): 1-26. Seoul: ISLI, Kyung Hee University.
   • (with Rok Sim). Concealed Passives and the syntax and semantics of need/philyo in English and Korean. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 6(1): 1-8 Washington DC: LSA.  

   • (with Kaitlyn E. Smith, Michael Gavin, and Kathryn Watson). Language differences spark fear amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Conversation: Politics and Society. April 30, 2020.
   • (with AJ Murphy and Mark Beck). Semantic and syntactic demarcations of Classical Greek object cases: An object(ive) study. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 5(1): 107-117. Washington DC: LSA.
   • (with Keunhyung Park). The effects of focus on scope relations between quantifiers and negation in Korean. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 5(1): 100-106. Washington DC: LSA.  

   • (with Keunhyung Park). The syntax and semantics of negative questions and answers in Korean and English.  Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 4(1): 1-9. Washington DC: LSA.

   • (with Andrea L. Berez-Kroeker et al.). Reproducible research in linguistics: A position statement on data citation and attribution in our field. Linguistics 56(1): 1-18.
   • (with Mila Tasseva-Kurktchieva). On the NP/DP frontier: Bulgarian as a transitional case. In Steven L. Franks, Vrinda Chidambaram, Brian D. Joseph, and Iliyana Krapova (eds.), Katerino Mome: Studies in Bulgarian Morphosyntax in Honor of Catherine Rudin, 287-311. Bloomington, IN: Slavica Publishers.
   • (with Jiyeon Song). Event- and type-plurality marker: -tul in Korean. Proceedings of the 20th Seoul International Conference on Generative Grammar (SICOGG 20), 357-367. Seoul, Korea: Konkuk University.
   • (with Jiyeon Song). Predicated-Predicate Nominatives in Korean: A novel class of nominatives. Proceedings of the 13th Workshop on Altaic Formal Linguistics (WAFL 13), 425-432. MIT Working Papers in Linguistics (MITWPL). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
   • (with Harvey Starr). Is language key to resolving the Israeli-Arab conflict? The Conversation: Global Perspectives. January 16, 2018.

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