Liliane Haegeman

“Comparative syntax. Layers of structure and the cartography project”

Liliane Haegeman was born Belgium in 1954. She studied Germanic Philology at the University of Ghent, where she obtained her Ph.D. in English linguistics. She was professor of English and general linguistics at the University of Geneva from 1984 till 1999 and from 2000-2008 she was professor of English linguistics at the University of Charles de Gaulle, Lille III. Her research is in the field of linguistics – more specifically comparative syntax - and adopts the generative approach to formal syntax. It focuses on the study of syntactic variation covering both the study of microvariation, i.e. variation between closely similar languages and/or dialects and macrovariation, i.e. variation between languages which display wider variation. A major part of her research has dealt with the syntax of West Flemish, her native language.

The Odysseus project (Comparative syntax. Layers of structure and the cartography project) adopts the cartographic approach to syntax, whose aim it is to decompose the sentence in its primitive syntactic components. The research project has three main lines of enquiry. A first project line deals with the syntax of the left periphery of the clause, i.e. the constituents to the left of the subject position. The goal is to determine to what extent the left periphery of the clause may be structurally deficient and whether the deficiency can be derived from independent principles of the grammar. The second line of the project examines the demarcation of the left periphery (‘CP’) and the core sentential domain (‘TP’) in the light of recent proposals in cartographic approaches and raises the question of the status of the subject position in relation to CP and TP. The third strand of research examines to what extent the internal structure of the nominal projection can be assimilated to that of the clause.