My research group at the Utrecht Institute of Linguistics investigates the influence of phonotactic constraints on speech segmentation, and the acquisition of phonotactic constraints, in particular in a second language. This research (2005-2010) is sponsored by a grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). Click here to read more about it.
Can the grammars of natural languages be characterized by interactions of universal, violable, and hierarchically ranked constraints? To what extent do constraint-based and rule-based theories predict different types of grammars? Optimality Theory, proposed by Alan Prince and Paul Smolensky in 1993, has since become a major framework in linguistics, in particular phonology. Find out more about on on the Rutgers Optimality Archive.
I have written a textbook about Optimality Theory, published by Cambridge University Press in 1999.
How can the typological variation between stress systems be captured by a small set of principles? What units of representation (e.g. metrical feet, syllable weight units) offer the most adequate description? To what extent are rhythmic principles (e.g. avoidance of clash and lapse) autonomous from metrical constituency?
A draft of my paper "Rhythmic directionality by positional licensing", which I presented at HILP 2001, is available here.
What are the interlocking dependencies between prosody (stress, syllables) and morphology (word formation) in natural languages? Do both domains use the same alphabet of representations? What do prosody-morphology interactions tell us about the architecture of the grammar?
Together with Harry van der Hulst and Wim Zonneveld, I have co-edited The Prosody-Morphology Interface (Cambridge University Press 1999), a volume of papers on types of word formation that are restricted by principles of prosody.
I have done some work on phonological irregularity in the lexicon ("allomorphy"), and its relations with contrast. Here is a paper “Lexical irregularity and the typology of contrast”, to appear in The Nature of the Word: Studies in Honor of Paul Kiparsky, edited by Kristin Hanson and Sharon Inkelas, MIT Press. (Planned publication: 2008.) [pdf]