James P Blevins

James P Blevins

James P Blevins


Linguistics: morphology, syntax, quantitative/computational linguistics, history of ideas

Current positions

Professor/Linguistics & Interim Director/GLOA, GMU

Previous employment

1997–2019 Linguistics, University of Cambridge
1992–1996 Linguistics, University of Western Australia
1989–1992 Technical Staff, MCC

Current Research

  1. Demarcating linguistic units. Issue: There are no cross-linguistically valid definitions of ‘words’ or other units. Goals: Reconstruct traditional units in terms of statistical patterns. Outline a model of linguistic analysis in terms of relations between units, so that a linguistic system is organized into networks of relations, not into inventories and arrangements of elements.
  2. Estimating morphological sparsity. Issue: The morphological input that a speaker encounters is more sparse and biased than previously assumed. But it is not known exactly how the structure of the input varies across languages. Goals Estimate inflectional (and derivational) family size from corpora in typologically diverse languages. Classify the elements that occur in the ‘head’ and ‘tail’ of word frequency distributions and model how clusters of attested forms exhaust the inflectional (and derivational) variation in a language.
  3. Measuring paradigmatic informativeness. Issue: Techniques exist for quantifying the information supplied by paradigmatic co-variation within a system. But existing techniques are limited and there are no large-scale cross-linguistic estimates of informativeness. Goals: Estimate informativeness of inflected forms within a large typological sample. Model strategies for ‘pooling’ variation by attested elements of word and inflection classes that allow speaker to extrapolate morphological systems from subsets of forms.
  4. Refurbishing our foundations: Issue: Recent developments in probabilistic and data-driven paradigms have placed contemporary linguistics on new foundations. Goal: Contribute to a constructive synthesis of legacy formal linguistic approaches that can help to clarify the key intrinsic limitations that impeded progress in the language sciences over the past century.

Selected Publications

Marzi, Claudia, James P. Blevins, Geert Booij, and Vito Pirrelli. 2020. Inflection at the morphology-syntax interface. In Word Knowledge and Word Usage: A Cross-disciplinary Guide to the Mental Lexicon, ed. by V. Pirrelli, I. Plag, and W. U. Dressler. Berlin: De Gruyter, 228–294.

Baayen, R. Harald, Yu-Ying Chuang, Elnaz Shafaei-Bajestan, and James P. Blevins. 2019. The discriminative lexicon. Complexity, Special Issue on Cognitive Network Science: A New Frontier, 1–39.

Baayen, R. Harald, Yu-Ying Chuang, and James P. Blevins. 2018. Inflectional morphology with linear mappings. The Mental Lexicon 13, 230–268.

Blevins, James P., Petar Milin & Michael Ramscar. 2017. The Zipfian Paradigm Cell Filling Problem. In Perspectives on Morphological Structure: Data and Analyses, ed. by F. Kiefer, J. P. Blevins, and H. Bartos. Leiden: Brill, 141–158.

Blevins, James P. 2016. Word and Paradigm Morphology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ackerman, Farrell, Robert Malouf, and James P. Blevins. 2016. Patterns and discriminability in language analysis. Word Structure 9(2), 132–155.

Expanded Publication List

Milin, Petar, and James P. Blevins. 2020. Paradigms in morphology. In The Oxford Encylopedia of Morphology, ed. by R. Lieber, S. Arndt-Lappe, A. Fàbregas, C. Gagné, and F. Masini. Oxford: OUP.

Chuang, Yu-Ying, Kaidi Lõo, James P. Blevins and R. Harald Baayen. 2020. Estonian case inflection made simple: A case study in Word and Paradigm morphology with Linear Discriminative Learning. In Complex Words: Advances in Morphology, ed. by L. Körtvélyessy and P. Štekauer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Blevins, James P., Farrell Ackerman, and Robert Malouf. 2019. Word and Paradigm Morphology. In The Oxford Handbook of Morphological Theory, ed. by J. Audring and F. Masini. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 265–285.

Ramscar, Michael, Melody Dye, James P. Blevins, and R. Harald Baayen. 2018. Morphological development. In Handbook of Communications Disorders: Theoretical, Empirical, and Applied Linguistic Perspectives, ed. by A. Bar-On and D. Ravid. Berlin: De Gruyter, 181–202.

Blevins, James P. 2017. The morphosyntax and morphothematics of voice. Journal of Language Sciences 24(4), 109–164.

Blevins, James P. 2016. The minimal sign. In The Cambridge Handbook of Morphology, ed. by A. Hippisley G. T. Stump. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 50–69.

Geertzen, Jeroen, James P. Blevins, and Petar Milin. 2016. The informativeness of linguistic unit boundaries. Italian Journal of Linguistics 28(1), 25–48.

Blevins, James P., Farrell Ackerman, Rober Malouf, and Michael Ramscar. 2016. Morphology as an adaptive discriminative system. In Morphological Metatheory, ed. by H. Harley and D. Siddiqi. Philadelphia: Benjamins, 269–300. [pdf]

Blevins, James P. 2015. Inflectional paradigms. In The Oxford Handbook of Inflection, ed. M. Baerman. Oxford: OUP, 87–111. [PDF]

Blevins, James P. 2014. The morphology of words. In The Oxford Handbook of Language Production, ed. by V. Ferreira, M. Goldrick, and M. Miozza. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 152–164. [PDF]

Blevins, James P. 2013a. The information-theoretic turn. Psihologija 46(3), 355–375.

Blevins, James P. 2013b. Word-based morphology from Aristotle to modern WP. In The Oxford Handbook of the History of Linguistics, ed. by K. Allan. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 375–395. [PDF]

Blevins, James P. 2013c. American Descriptivism (‘Structuralism‘). In The Oxford Handbook of the History of Linguistics, ed. by K. Allan. Oxford: OUP , 419–437. [PDF]

Blevins, James P., and Ivan A. Sag. 2013. Phrase Structure Grammar. In The Cambridge Handbook of Generative Syntax, ed. by M. den Dikken. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 202–225. [PDF]

Blevins, James P. 2011. Feature-based grammar. In Nontransformational Syntax, ed. by R. D. Borsley and K. Börjars. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 297–324. [PDF]

Ackerman, Farrell, James P. Blevins, and Robert Malouf. 2009. Parts and wholes: Implicative patterns in inflectional paradigms. In Analogy in Grammar: Form and Acquisition, ed. by J. P. Blevins and J. Blevins. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 54–81. [PDF]

Blevins, James P. 2008a. The post-transformational enterprise.. Journal of Linguistics 44(3), 723–742. [PDF]

Blevins, James P. 2008b. Declension classes in Estonian. Linguistica Uralica 44(4), 241–267.

Blevins, James P. 2008c. Case and declensional paradigms. In The Oxford Handbook of Case, eds. A. J. Spencer and A. Malchukov. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 200–218. [PDF]

Ackerman, F., and J. P. Blevins. 2008. Syntax: The state of the art. In Unity and Diversity of Languages, ed. P. van Sterkenberg. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 215–229. [PDF]

Blevins, James P. 2007. Conjugation classes in Estonian. Linguistica Uralica 43(4), 250–267.

Blevins, James P. 2006a. Word-based morphology. Journal of Linguistics 42(3), 531–573.

Blevins, James P. 2006b. English inflection and derivation. In Handbook of English Linguistics, ed. by B. Aarts and A. M. McMahon. London: Blackwell, 507–536. [PDF]

Blevins, James P. 2005a. Word-based declensions in Estonian. Handbook of Morphology 2005, 1–25.

Blevins, James P. 2005b. Remarks on gerunds. In Morphology and the web of grammar: Essays in memory of Steven G. Lapointe, eds. C. O. Orgun and P. Sells. Stanford: CSLI Publications, 19–40. [PDF]

Blevins, James P. 2004. Inflection classes and economy. In Explorations in Nominal Inflection, eds. G. Müller, L. Gunkel and G. Zifonun. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 41–85. [PDF]

Blevins, James P. 2003a. Stems and paradigms. Language 79(2), 737–767.

Blevins, James P. 2003b. Passives and impersonals. Journal of Linguistics 39(3), 473–520.

Clahsen, Harald, Ingrid Sonnenstuhl, and James P. Blevins. 2003. Derivational morphology in the German mental lexicon. In Morphological Structure in Language Processing, ed. by R. H. Baayen and R. Schreuder. Berlin: De Gruyter, 125–155. [PDF]

Blevins, James P. 2001a. Realization-based lexicalism. Journal of Linguistics 37(2), 355–365.

Blevins, James P. 2001b. Paradigmatic derivation. Transactions of the Philological Society 99(2), 211–222.

Blevins, James P. 2000a. Markedness and agreement. Transactions of the Philological Society 98(2), 233–262.

Blevins, James P. 2000b. Markedness and blocking in German declensional paradigms. In Lexicon in Focus, ed. by B. Stiebels and D. Wunderlich. Berlin: Akademie Verlag/De Gruyter, 83–103. [pdf]

Blevins, James P. 1988. Restructured compounds and Romance causatives. In Advances in Romance Linguistics, ed. by J.-P. Montreuil and D. Birdsong. Dordrecht: Foris, 17–32.

Blevins, James P. 1995. [Syncretism and paradigmatic opposition. Linguistics and Philosophy 18(2), 113–152.

Blevins, James P. 1994a. Derived constituent order in unbounded dependency constructions. Journal of Linguistics 30(2), 349–409.

Blevins, James P. 1994b. A lexicalist analysis of gerundive nominals in English. Australian Journal of Linguistics 14(1), 1–38.

Courses Taught

Number Topic Semester(s)
ENGH 301 The Fields of English Fall 2020
LING 306 General linguistics Fall 2019
LING 522 Modern English grammar Spring 2020, 2021
LING 650 Introduction to Sociolinguistics Spring 2021
LING 686 Special topics: Morphology Fall 2019, 2020


1990 PhD in Linguistics, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
1983 Honours BA in English and Philosophy, Bishop’s University