Peter Jenks

Assistant Professor

Picture of Peter Jenks
Formal and comparative syntax, semantics, and morphology, especially of Southeast Asian and African languages.
Languages: Southeast Asian languages, especially Thai; Niger-Congo languages, especially Moro
PhD Harvard University, 2011; MA UC San Diego 2006; AB Dartmouth College, 2004
Research areas: Syntax & Semantics

Contact Information

Office: 1217 Dwinelle
Office Hours: 3-4pm, Wednesday
Web Site:

Personal Statement

I study the syntax of natural languages, with broad interests in the interface of syntax with phonology, morphology, and semantics. My research concentrates on languages which have not played a prominent role in the development of formal theories, looking for unusual or unexpected syntactic phenomena in these languages which bear on general theoretical questions, and using linguistic theory to understand the structure of these languages and the ways that languages vary. I have worked on the syntax and semantics of noun phrases, quantifiers and embedded clauses.

My main areal focus is Southeast Asian languages, especially Thai. My dissertation focused on Thai noun phrases, relative clauses, and quantifier float. I have done in-situ fieldwork on Moken, an Austronesian language spoken in southern Thailand and Myanmar.

I also study African languages, especially Moro, a Kordofanian language spoken in Sudan and the United States by small immigrant communities. My work on Moro has been in conjunction with the Moro Language Project at UCSD. I have collaborated in work focused on tone, verbal morphology, noun phrase syntax, and wh-questions. I have also done work with Larry Hyman, Emmanuel-Mossely Makasso, and Andrew Koontz-Garboden on Basaá, a Bantu language of Cameroon.

Selected publications

To appear. (with Sharon Rose). Mobile object markers in Moro: The role of tone. Language.

2014. (with S. Rose, F. Ackerman G. Gibbard, L. Kertz and H. Rohde.) In-situ and ex-situ wh-question constructions in Moro. Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 31, 91-125.

2014. Generalized clausal modifiers in Thai noun phrases. Syntax 17, 299-343.

2014. Head movement in Moro DPs: Evidence for a unified theory of movement. In Proceedings of WCCFL 31, R. LaBarge (Ed.)

2014. (with Shi-zhe Huang.) Nominal modification in Chinese and Thai. In Proceedings of WCCFL 31, R. LaBarge (Ed.)

2013. Quantifier float, focus, and scope in Thai. In Proceedings of BLS 39.

2013. (with Pittayawat Pittayaporn) Kra-Dai Languages. In Oxford Bibliographies Online: Linguistics. Mark Aronoff (Ed.)

2011. (with Sharon Rose) High tone in Moro: Effects of prosodic categories and morphological domains. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 29, 211-250.

 2011. The Hidden Structure of Thai Noun Phrases. PhD Dissertation, Harvard University.

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