Brent de Chene
          Professor, Department of English
          School of Education, Waseda University
          Nishi Waseda 1-6-1, Shinjuku-ku
          Tokyo, Japan 169-8050

          dechene at waseda dot jp

Personal Statement

I was trained as a phonologist in the 1970s at UCLA; having an ambivalent relationship with the synchronic phonological theory of the era, I wrote my dissertation (submitted September, 1978) on a question of historical phonology, namely how languages acquire vowel length contrasts. With additional material written in the early 1980s, this was published as The Historical Phonology of Vowel Length (Garland, 1985). After three years of teaching in the United States (UC Santa Cruz 1978-80, University of Minnesota 1980-81), I moved to Japan in July of 1981 and have remained there since, in my present position at Waseda University in Tokyo since April, 1986.

In the 1990s, in response both to the inherent interest of the generative enterprise in syntax as articulated in works such as Chomsky's Knowledge of Language and to the needs of my students, my interests turned in the direction of syntactic theory. In addition to papers on topics such as complementizer-trace effects and focus-scope interactions, I wrote, in Japanese, a textbook that, in the course of discussing problems of English grammar and usage that consistently pose problems for speakers of Japanese, introduces GB-era analyses of phenomena such as wh-movement and infinitival complementation. This appeared as 英文法の再発見 (Rediscovering English Grammar (Kenkyusha, 1997)).

Beginning around 2006, I returned to a research topic that had occupied me in the mid-1980s, namely the implications of ongoing change in the Japanese system of verbal inflection for the synchronic analysis of that system. Attempting to go beyond the question of what the descriptively adequate (psychologically real) analysis of the system is to the question of the explanatory principles on the basis of which that analysis has been chosen over observationally adequate alternatives has led me to a reconsideration of the principles of base form (underlying representation) choice in phonology more generally. This issue, arguably central to phonological theory and analysis (though deemphasized in optimality theoretic phonology), constitutes the focus of my current research.

Recent Papers

Description and Explanation in Inflectional Morphophonology: The Case of the Japanese Verb (also here)
Description and Explanation in Inflectional Morphophonology: Notes on the Japanese Verb
  (prefinal version of a paper to be published by MITWPL in the proceedings of WAFL6)
Underlying Representations at the Level of the Feature and the Morph (in preparation)

Selected Older Papers

The "Tense" Morphology of Conditionals
The Locus of Agreement Features in the DP
Case and Concord
Prosody and Subject Traces
Topic, Focus, and Quantifier Scope in English (new electronic version in preparation)

Teaching (Under Construction)