University of California, Davis, BA
University of California, Berkeley, PhD

I am a specialist in the English Language, with a focus on the history of English. My particular areas of interest include English historical linguistics, historical pragmatics (discourse markers), grammaticalization and lexicalization, phrasal verbs and composite predicates, corpus linguistics, and aspectual studies. I completed my PhD at the University of California, Berkeley, in English with a Linguistics Emphasis in 1981, and I have been working at UBC ever since.

I am the co-author of three textbooks, one on the structure of modern English (now in its second edition), one on the history of English (now in its third edition), and one on English historical linguistics, as well as the author of monographs on aspect, pragmatic markers, comment clauses, and lexicalization. I have edited several collections of papers, including the two-volume English Historical Linguistics: An International Handbook (reprinted, with revisions, in 5 paperback versions in 2017). I am co-editor of English Language and Linguistics (Cambridge University Press).

I teach undergraduate courses in the Structure of Modern English (ENGL 330 and 331), the History of the English Language (ENGL 318 and 319), Grammar and Usage (ENGL 321), English Corpus Linguistics (ENGL 324), and Stylistics (ENGL 322). A recent majors seminar (ENGL 489) focused on Corpus Linguistics and Prescriptivism. With a colleague in Linguistics, I co-teach a first-year course on “Challenging Language Myths” (ENGL/LING 140).

My graduate seminars have concerned Historical Pragmatics, Pragmatic Markers, Literary Pragmatics, and Grammaticalization.

Authored books

The Development of English Aspectual Systems: Aspectualizers and Post-verbal Particles. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. Digitally reprinted, 2009.

Pragmatic Markers in English: Grammaticalization and Discourse Functions.. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 1996.

Lexicalization and Language Change (co-authored with Elizabeth Closs Traugott). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Translated into Japanese, Chinese, and Korean.

The Comment Clause in English: Syntactic Origins and Pragmatic Development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Issued in paperback, 2011.

The Linguistic Structure of Modern English. (co-authored with Donna M. Brinton) 2nd edn. of The Structure of Modern English: A Linguistic Introduction. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 2010.

The English Language: A Linguistic History (co-authored with Leslie K. Arnovick). 3rd edn. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2016.

The Evolution of Pragmatic Markers in English: Pathways to Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017.


Edited collections (selected)

Collocational and Idiomatic Aspects of Composite Predicates in the History of English (co-edited with Minoji Akimoto). Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 1999.

English Historical Linguistics: An International Handbook (co-edited with Alexander Bergs). Handbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunkationswissenschaft, 34.1-34.2. Berlin and New York: De Gruyter Mouton, 2012.  Reprinted as five readers in 2017.

English Historical Linguistics: Perspectives and Approaches. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017

A full listing of my publications is available on my personal webpage:

I continue to do research in the area of pragmatic markers in the history of English. A new research project focuses on the history and development of downtoners in English.

I am currently co-editor of English Language and Linguistics with Bernd Kortmann (Freiburg University) and Patrick Honeybone (University of Edinburgh), and Elena Seaone (University of Vigo) Formerly, I co-edited the Journal of Historical Pragmatics with Dawn Archer (Manchester Metropolitan).