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Margaret Speas

Professor Emerita

Margaret (Peggy) Speas received her M.A. from the University of Arizona and her Ph.D. from MIT.  In her research on the syntax of natural language, she has focused on the role of functional categories and the basic principles that constrain syntactic structure across languages.  Her publications include work on person, direct discourse, deictics, null pronouns and evidentials, as well as X-Bar Theory and Optimality Theory.  Her syntactic research on the Navajo language led to an interest in understudied languages in general and in community efforts to revitalize endangered languages.  She is a founding member of the Navajo Language Academy and co-author of Diné Bizaad Biínahoo’aah (Rediscovering the Navajo Language), a Navajo language textbook. 


Kalsang, J. Garfield, M. Speas and J. deVilliers. 2013.  “Direct Evidentials, Case, Tense and Aspect in Tibetan: Evidence for a General Theory of the Semantics of Evidentials.”  Natural Language and Linguistic Theory. 31.2 517-561.

“Language Ownership and Language Ideologies.”  2013. Negotiating Culture:  Heritage, Ownership and Intellectual Property.  University of Massachusetts Press.

“Evidentials as Generalized Functional Heads.” 2010. in A.M. diScuillo, ed. Interface Legibility at the Edge. Oxford University Press.

Parsons-Yazzie, Evangeline and Margaret Speas. 2008.Diné Bizaad Biínahoo’aah (Rediscovering the Navajo Language)  Salina Bookshelf, Flagstaff AZ.

 “Evidentiality, Logophoricity and the Syntactic Representation of Pragmatic Features.” 2004. Lingua 14.3, pp. 255-276.

“Economy, Agreement and the Representation of Null Arguments.”  2006. in P. Ackema, ed., Agreement and Argument Structure. Oxford University Press.

“Configurational Properties of Point of View Roles” (with Carol Tenny).  2003.  in DiSciullo, ed. Asymmetry in Grammar.  Benjamins. pp. 315-344.

“Person and Point of View in Navajo” 2000. Eloise Jelinek, ed., WCCFL Papers in Honor of Ken Hale, MIT Press, Cambridge.

E. Parsons Yazzie and Margaret Speas. 1996. 'Quantification and the Position of NPs in Navajo.' in E. Jelinek and L. Saxon, eds, Athapaskan Syntax, Benjamins.

Phrase Structure in Natural Language, 1990, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrect.