Doctoral Candidate Will Nediger has always been interested in language. He became interested in the scientific study of language after reading Steven Pinker’s The Language Instinct.

His current linguistic interests lie in syntax and how it relates to semantics, language acquisition, and Romance linguistics, specifically Spanish linguistics. His interest in syntax was a natural choice for Will due to his desire to figure out the fundamental properties of the cognitive system underlying human linguistic ability. To understand syntax, understanding how it connects to other parts of the linguistic system is important, especially semantically.

Will chose U-M Linguistics because it “has a unique balance of disciplines and approaches, both in its faculty and its graduate students. You can see from the amount of productive interplay we have, both internal to the department and with researchers in other departments, like the Department of Psychology and the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures,” he said.

Professor Acrisio Pires is his advisor, a great advisor because of his hands-on approach making every project feel like a collaboration. In a shift he credits to his collaboration with Acrisio, Will has moved from purely theoretical research to a broader conception of what it means to study syntax: “Noam Chomsky’s notion of explanatory adequacy, that you need to take into account how the child can acquire grammar you’re proposing, is a long-standing one, but I’ve only recently gotten into experimental research on language acquisition.”

During his time at U-M he has received multiple fellowships from Rackham Graduate School, including the Centennial Fellowship in 2013 and the Predoctoral Fellowship. From the Sweetland Writing Center, he received a Junior Fellowship to develop a syllabus for the course Writing and Academic Inquiry (English 125), which he designed and taught himself.

Find out more about Will Nediger and his work.