Janet Randall

Janet Randall


About Janet Randall

Janet Randall is a professor affiliated with both the Department of English and the Linguistics Program, in the College of Science. Her research and publications span areas in theoretical linguistics (the syntax/semantics interface, argument structure), language acquisition (the acquisition of verbs; argument structure; morphology); psycholinguistics; linguistics and law, and linguistics in the schools. Her 2010 theoretical linguistics study, Linking: the geometry of argument structure (Springer)explores how a verb’s conceptual/semantic arguments map to their syntactic positions. Other current projects focus on how linguistic analysis can improve legal language and on the “grammar gap”:  the teaching (and non-teaching) of grammar. New students are always welcome to join her research teams and can earn credit through directed study, experiential education, or honors projects; work/study positions are also available. Her next book will bring together current research at the interface of linguistics and law.



2010 —  Linking: the geometry of argument structure.  Studies in Natural Language & Linguistic Series, Volume 74, Springer, Dordrecht. xv+325 pp.  [paperback published in 2011]  (PDF of errata list).

1985 — Morphological Structure and Language Acquisition.  Garland Outstanding Dissertations in Linguistics, Garland Publications, NY.


2020 — [Forthcoming]  Results from the LingLaw Lab:  a collaborative workspace.  Chicago Kent Law Review, Symposium issue:  Reviving the American Jury.

2019 — How Just is Justice? Ask a Psycholinguist.  In Carlson, Katy, Charles Clifton Jr. & Janet Dean Fodor, eds. Grammatical Approaches to Language Processing- Essays in Honor of Lyn Frazier.   Studies in Theoretical Pyscholinguistics, Springer, NY, 275-308.

2014 — Tackling “legalese”: How linguistics can simplify legal language and increase access to justice.  Language Use & Linguistic Structure (Olomouc Modern Language Series), Olomouc, 231-46.  [Online] https://dx.doi.org/10.5507/ff.14.24440606.

2007 — Parameterized auxiliary selection: a fine-grained interaction of features and linking rules.  In Aranovich, R., ed., Split Auxiliary Systems: A Cross-linguistic Perspective.  Studies in Language Series, John Benjamins, NY.  207-235.

2004 — Acquiring unaccusativity: a cross-linguistic look. (with A. van Hout, H. Baayen & J. Weissenborn)  In Alexiadou, A., E. Anagnostopoulou &  M. Everaert, eds.  The Unaccusativity Puzzle: explorations of the syntax-lexicon interface.  Oxford Studies in Theoretical Linguistics, Oxford University Press, NY.  332-353.

2003 —  Inheritance in morphology.   In Frawley, W., ed., Oxford Encyclopedia of Linguistics.  2nd ed. Oxford University Press, NY. Volume 2, 283-284.

1993 — Lexical Mapping. (with J. Carrier)  In Reuland, E. & W. Abraham, eds., Knowledge and Language vol. 2: lexical and conceptual structure.  Kluwer, Dordrecht, 119-142.

1992 — The argument structure and syntactic structure of resultatives. (with J. Carrier.)  Linguistic Inquiry 23, 173-234.

1992 —  The Catapult Hypothesis: an approach to unlearning   In Weissenborn, J., H. Goodluck & T. Roeper, eds., Theoretical issues in language acquisition. Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, 93-138.

1990 — Catapults & pendulums: the mechanics of language acquisition.  Linguistics 28, 1381-1406.  

1988 —  Inheritance.  In Wilkins, W., ed., Thematic Relations. Syntax & Semantics series, Volume 21. Academic Press, New York, 129-146.

1988 — Of butchers & bakers & candlestickmakers: the problem of morphology in understanding words. In Davison, A. & G. Green, eds., Linguistic complexity and text comprehension:  a re-examination of readability with alternative views. Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, 223-245.

1987 —  Indirect positive evidence: overturning overgeneralizations in language acquisition.  Indiana University Linguistics Club.

1985 —  Negative evidence from positive.  In Fletcher, P. and M. Garman, eds., Child Language Seminar Papers 1, 105-114.  [Abstract]

1984 —   Morphological complementation. In Speas, M. and R. Sproat, eds., MIT Working Papers in Linguistics VII, 70-85.

1984 —  Grammatical information in word structureQuaderni di Semantica [International Journal of Theoretical and Applied Semantics] 5, 313-330.

1984 — Thematic structure and inheritanceQuaderni di Semantica [International Journal of Theoretical and Applied Semantics] 5, 92-110.

1984 —  Indirect positive evidence:  a new route for retreatBoston University Conference on Language Development, Special Session: theoretical issues in language acquisition, 1-14.  Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) Clearinghouse on Languages & Linguistics, ED253113, Center for Applied Linguistics, Washington, D.C.

1983 —  A lexical approach to causatives.   Journal of Linguistic Research 2, 77-105.

1983 —  Filling gaps:  decision principles and structure in language comprehension. (with L. Frazier and C. Clifton)  Cognition 13, 187-222.

1980 —  -ity: a study in word formation restrictionsJournal of Psycholinguistic Research 6, 524-35.

Invited Presentations (recent, selected)

2019 — In pursuit of comprehension:  Law, meet Linguistics. Workshop for new judges, Flaschner Judicial Institute, Boston. (Organized by Justice Douglas Wilkins.) The Flaschner Judicial Institute provides educational/ professional development programming for judges.  May.

2019 — The Linguistics & Law Lab: a collaborative research space. The Civil Jury Project Roundtable for Academic Advisors, NYU Law School, April.

2018 — “Just” Language:  Linguistics & Law 101.  2-hour workshop.  Department of Linguistics & Translation, City University of Hong Kong.  August.

2017 —  The preponderance of the WHAT? Legalese, meet Linguistics.  The Syntax of Justice: Law, Language, Access & Exclusion Conference.  Northeastern U. School of Law, Boston.  March.

2017 —  One talk, three ways. Keynote speaker, professional development workshop for graduate students & post-docs.  Boston University Conference on Language Development.  Boston, November.

2016 — Results, three ways.  One of 3 invited speakers at Student-organized Panel, Know Your Audience: Explaining your Research in Different Contexts.  Linguistics Society of America Annual Meeting.  Washington DC.  January.

2014 — “What was that, again?”  Instructing a Jury in Plain English.  Workshop, Flaschner Judicial Institute, Boston.  The Flaschner Judicial Institute provides educational/ professional development programming for judges.


2018 — Ode to Tom Roeper.  In Hollebrandse, Bart, Jaieun Kim, Ana T. Pérez-Leroux, & Petra Schulz, eds. T.O.M and grammar (Thoughts on Mind and grammar): A festschrift in honor of Tom Roeper. University of Massachusetts Occasional Papers in Linguistics (UMOP) 41.  Amherst: U.Mass, Graduate Linguistics Student Association, 123-125.

2007 — Discovering knowledge about prefixes.  TeachLing:  Lesson plans on language and linguistics in K-12 education.  Lesson plan for grades 6-8.  Western Washington University.

1978 —  de- and dis- location. Unpublished ms. University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

In the Press

2017 — Too often juries comprise 12 confused men (and women), Robert Lane Greene, The Economist.  April 14-20.

2015 — Embrace Plain English Jury Instructions, Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm, Persuasive Litigator.  March 23.

2013 — Linguists to gather in Minneapolis for national conference,  Linguistic Society of America on AAAA/EurekAlert!  December 6.  (Scroll down to the 6th entry, Randall)

Institutes, Labs & Research Centers
Linguistics and Law Lab

The Linguistics & Law Lab is working at the border between law and linguistics to improve justice through linguistic research.


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