Indiana University Bloomington

Steven L. Franks, Ph.D.

Professor, Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures
Professor, Linguistics
Adjunct Professor, Speech and Hearing Sciences
Russian and East European Institute faculty
Cognitive Science Program faculty

Steven L. Franks

Office number: Ballantine Hall 853
E-mail address:

Degree: Ph.D., Cornell University, 1985.

Dissertation: "Matrices and Indices: Some Problems in the Syntax of Case."

Specialties/Research Interests: Comparative Slavic morphosyntax; syntactic theory.

My major research interests lie in syntactic theory, focusing on issues broadly related to case and clitics. Much of my work compares grammatical patterns within the closely related Slavic family, in order to uncover the parameters that delimit the range of possible variation. This research is conducted within the context of generative grammar.

The fundamental goal of linguistics as a cognitive science is to discover the nature of knowledge of language. I believe that coming to "know a language" involves the internalization of a system of rules (a grammar), and that by studying the properties of grammars we can learn about the structure of the human language faculty. A grammatical analysis is a theory of mind, making specific empirical claims about abstract mental representations. Facts garnered through introspection into native linguistic knowledge can be analyzed into grammatical systems, and these systems can be studied for general organizational principles. Linguistic theory thus defines a research program for investigating the language faculty, and this methodology for seeking the principles that regulate grammars currently provides one of our best avenues into the workings of the human mind.

Courses regularly taught:

  • Language and thought.
  • Comparative Slavic morphosyntax.
  • Syntax.
  • Advanced Syntax.

Representative Publications: