Portrait of Dr Laura Bailey

Dr Laura Bailey

Lecturer in English Language and Linguistics

About

Dr Laura Bailey joined the University of Kent as a Lecturer in English Language and Linguistics in 2012, after completing her PhD on the syntax of question particles at Newcastle University. 

Laura is the Student Success Lecturer for the School of European Culture and Languages, working with the Student Success Project to reduce attainment gaps in the school. She runs workshops, talks, events, focus groups and creates resources to help to do this. 

She blogs regularly about language and linguistics and can be found on Twitter as @linguistlaura.

Research interests

Laura is interested in formal analysis of non-standard syntax and is currently investigating the omission of prepositions in several varieties of English (including the Kentish dialect). She also maintains an interest in particles, questions, negation and disjunction. Her research is parametric and cross-linguistic in nature. 

Laura welcomes enquiries from prospective students working in a generative syntax framework, and especially projects within the areas of non-standard syntax, questions, or comparative syntax.     

Teaching

Laura teaches across a broad range of subjects, focusing mostly on syntax, morphology and semantics, from Stage 1 to Master’s level.

Publications

Article

  • Bailey, L. (2019). Some characteristics of Southeast English preposition-dropping. Iberia: An international journal of theoretical linguistics [Online] 10:48-70. Available at: https://revistascientificas.us.es/index.php/iberia/article/view/7242.
    Preposition-dropping is widespread in British English varieties, but the construction found in Southeast England differs from the descriptions of Northwest Englishes, patterning more closely with Greek and Romance varieties. The determiner is obligatorily absent, the argument must be a directional Goal, the verb must be semantically weak come or go, and the location must be familiar, anaphoric or a place name. These characteristics are explained if the noun undergoes N-to-D movement to gain a definite interpretation, requiring omission of the determiner and lack of modification, and the null directional preposition to conflates with v for licensing, removing the possibility of manner-of-motion verbs.
  • Bailey, L. (2018). The mystery of the missing prepositions. Babel: the language magazine [Online] 23. Available at: https://www.babelzine.com/2016-09-21-12-15-29/issue-guide.html.
  • Janke, V. and Bailey, L. (2017). Effects of Discourse on Control. Journal of Linguistics [Online] 53:533-565. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0022226716000281.
    This study examined discourse effects on obligatory and non-obligatory control interpretations. 70 participants undertook three online forced-choice surveys, which monitored preferred interpretations in complement control, verbal-gerund-subject control, long-distance control and final temporal adjunct control. Survey 1 ascertained their baseline interpretations of the empty category in these constructions. Survey 2 cued the critical sentences used in survey 1 with a weakly established topic of discourse and survey 3 cued them with a strongly established one. Reference assignment in complement control remained consistent across all three conditions, illustrating that pragmatics does not infiltrate this structurally regulated and syntactically unambiguous construction. Changes in interpretation were found in the remaining three constructions. An accessibility-motivated scale of influence, combining three independent discourse factors (topic, linear distance and competition) is created to model reference determination in verbal-gerund-subject control and long-distance control. The results for temporal adjunct control are novel. They revealed a much stronger susceptibility to pragmatic interference than that reported in the literature yet the construction behaved differently from non-obligatory control under discourse pressure. We propose a structural account for final temporal adjunct control, which permits the evident interpretation shift, whilst still excluding arbitrary and sentence-external interpretations.
  • Bailey, L. (2013). Question particles: Thai, Japanese and English. Linguistica Atlantica [Online] 32:34-51. Available at: http://journals.library.mun.ca/ojs/index.php/LA/article/view/866.
    This article focuses on polar question particles in Thai and Japanese: both languages have a sentence-final polar question particle (m and ka respectively). The two languages show considerable similarity in their question-forming strategy; however, differences arise in terms of the type of question in which the particle can occur. I argue that the question particle in each case originates from a disjunctive clause, but, in Thai, the particle retains its disjunctive character, whereas in Japanese it has progressed to a true question particle. The analysis has prediction potential for English, where similar question particles may arise. English does not have polar question particles, but it does have a large number of final discourse particles, as well as what looks like a final disjunction exhibiting some question particle properties. I suggest that, while this is not a final question particle, if it ever were to become one it would be on the model of Thai rather than Japanese. The potential for this development into a question particle to occur, however, depends upon a trigger experience, which at present is absent. Reanalysis has therefore not taken place.
  • Bailey, L. (2011). Null Subjects in Northeast English. Newcastle Working Papers in Linguistics [Online] 17:23-45. Available at: http://www.ncl.ac.uk/linguistics/assets/documents/NWPLvol172011CompleteVolume.pdf.
    This paper presents data and analysis relating to null subjects in spoken colloquial English.
    While English is not a „pro-drop? language (i.e. subjects must usually be overt), a corpus of
    speech collected on Tyneside and Wearside in 2007 shows that null subjects are permitted in
    finite clauses in certain contexts. This paper analyses these examples and follow-up
    questionnaires, and compares the data with the other types of null subject described in the
    literature (pro-drop, topic-drop, early null subjects, aphasics? null subjects and „diary-drop?),
    ultimately concluding that the colloquial English phenomenon is most closely related to diary-
    drop.
  • Bailey, L. (2010). Sentential Word Order and the Syntax of Question Particles. Newcastle Working Papers in Linguistics [Online] 16:23-43. Available at: http://www.ncl.ac.uk/linguistics/research/workingpapers/.
    Polar question particles in languages with VO word order pose a problem for the otherwise
    robust Final-Over-Final Constraint, which rules out a head-final phrase immediately
    dominating a head-initial phrase (Holmberg 2000). This paper offers a description of these
    particles and the constraint, and offers data supporting the hypothesis that these final particles
    are different from their initial counterparts in a fundamental way.

Book section

  • Bailey, L. (2015). Word order and the syntax of question particles. In: Hancil, S., Haselow, A. and Post, M. eds. Final Particles. Berlin: De Gruyter, pp. 407-426. Available at: http://www.degruyter.com/view/product/361470.
    Polar question particles may appear in various positions in the clause, usually initially or finally. When clause-final and co-occurring with verb-object word order, they violate an apparently valid linguistic universal, the Final-Over-Final Constraint. I consider the status of such particles, providing information about their distribution, before arguing that they may be analysed as either disjunction, heading an elided disjunctive clause, or as optional elements which are not obligatory ‘clause-typers’ but rather add some further, pragmatic information.

Edited book

  • Bailey, L.R. and Sheehan, M. eds. (2017). Order and Structure in Syntax I: Word Order and Syntactic Structure. [Online]. Language Science Press. Available at: http://langsci-press.org/catalog/book/159.
    This book reconsiders the role of order and structure in syntax, focusing on fundamental issues such as word order and grammatical functions. The first group of papers in the collection asks what word order can tell us about syntactic structure, using evidence from V2, object shift, word order gaps and different kinds of movement. The second group of papers all address the issue of subjecthood in some way, and examine how certain subject properties vary across languages: expression of subjects, expletive subjects, quirky and locative subjects. All of the papers address in some way the tension between modelling what can vary across languages whilst improving our understanding of what might be universal to human language.
  • Sheehan, M. and Bailey, L.R. eds. (2017). Order and Structure in Syntax II: Subjecthood and Argument Structure. [Online]. Language Science Press. Available at: http://langsci-press.org/catalog/book/115.
    This book reconsiders the role of order and structure in syntax, focusing on fundamental issues such as word order and grammatical functions. The first group of papers in the collection asks what word order can tell us about syntactic structure, using evidence from V2, object shift, word order gaps and different kinds of movement. The second group of papers all address the issue of subjecthood in some way, and examine how certain subject properties vary across languages: expression of subjects, expletive subjects, quirky and locative subjects. All of the papers address in some way the tension between modelling what can vary across languages whilst improving our understanding of what might be universal to human language.
  • Bailey, L.R., Sztencel, M., Krzek, M., Algryani, A., Sulaiman, M., Sokolovi?-Perovi?, M. and Leung, A.H.C. eds. (2010). Newcastle Working Papers in Linguistics 16. CRiLLS Newcastle University.

Thesis

  • D’Elia, S. (2016). The Spray/Load and Dative Alternations: Aligning VP Structure and Contextual Effects.
    The theoretical and experimental work presented in this thesis investigates the spray/load and dative alternations. The purpose is to provide a comprehensive analysis of the alternations in terms of their syntactic structures and to account for how contextual information drives differences in the linear order of their VP arguments. This analysis shows that the syntactic structures of the spray/load and dative alternations are identical; each variant in an alternation is characterised by one of two available structures proposed in Janke and Neeleman (2012). Each structure is shown to respect a novel thematic hierarchy that is based on the value of binary feature clusters (Reinhart, 2000) rather than by direct reference to semantic labels. The choice of a particular structure is demonstrated to be affected by the non-semantic context in which the spray/load or dative sentence is generated. This is a consequence of the limited processing capacity of Working Memory and the allocation of attentional resources to a stimulus. Experimental data from an as yet untested variable of the visual context – the egocentric perception of distance – is found to interact with word order preferences of the alternations. I conclude that non-semantic contextual information interacts with the encoding of an event which ultimately has consequences for syntactic choices.
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