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Department of English Language and Literature


Dorothy Disterheft

Title: Professor Emeritus
Department: English Language and Literature
College of Arts and Sciences
Resources: Curriculum Vitae [pdf]
English Language and Literature
Linguistics Program


PhD, UCLA, 1977


    Theory of language change
    Historical syntax
    Historical phonology
    Indo-European linguistics, culture, religion, and prehistory
    Old and Middle Irish syntax
    Contemporary English grammar


ENGL 450/LING 421    English Grammar
ENGL 453/LING 431    Development of the English Language
LING 530                       Language Change
LING 730                       Historical Linguistics


I am finishing a long-term book project on the development of infinitival subordination in early Irish. It is based upon data collected from all available edited manuscripts of Old and Middle Irish (roughly 650-1200 CE). It incorporates several themes which I have been exploring for some time: what do speakers think they are doing as they introduce linguistic innovations? How do such innovations show up in texts? What are the limits of language - specifically syntactic - change?


    The Syntactic Development of the Infinitive in Indo-European. Columbus, Ohio: Slavica Press. 220 pages (1980).
    Studies in Honor of Jaan Puhvel, Part One: Ancient Languages and Philology, edited with Martin Huld and John Greppin. Washington D.C: Institute for the Study of Man. (Indo-European Studies Monograph, vol. 20) 250 pages (1997).
    Advanced grammar: A manual for students. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall. 480 pages (2003).
    Chapter, "Subordination" (with Carlotta Viti). Continuum Companion to Historical Linguistics, edited by Silvia Luraghi and Vit Bubenik. London/New York Continuum (to appear, 2010).

    "Purpose and consecutive in Irish." ériu 36.107-23 (1985).
    "The structure and diachrony of consecutives." Diachronica 3.1-14 (1986).
    "The diachronic relationship of morphology and syntax." Papers from the Seventh International Conference on Historical Linguistics, ed. by A.Giacalone Ramat, O. Carruba and G. Bernini, 211-20. Amsterdam: John Benjamins (1987).
    "The role of adaptive rules in language change." Diachronica 7:181-98 (1990).
    "Parameter resetting." Historical Linguistics 1991, ed. by Jaap van Marle, 87-97. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins (1993).

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.