Graphic by E. Thomforde
I am particularly interested in a set of complex, emergent patterns known under the umbrella term vowel harmony. These patterns show an immense range of variation, undergo dynamic change, and exhibit many properties of self-organizing systems. They pose interesting challenges for Linguistic theory and for modeling more general cognitive functions such as pattern recognition and statistical learning. I study these patterns (1) empirically (in the field in Siberia), (2) by devising formal models, and (3) by building simulations of artificial speech communities.
In collaboration with my students, I've developed a web tool to detect harmony patterns in languages.