David W Lightfoot


Professor of Linguistics; Director, Communication, Culture & Technology, Director, Interdisciplinary
Professor of Linguistics; Director, Communication, Culture & Technology; Co-Director, Interdisciplinary concentration in Cognitive Science


Graduate School of Arts and Sciences


Articles in journals
Articles in books
  • David W. Lightfoot. "Triggers and their consequences for language acquisition." Questioning causality: Scientific explorations of cause and consequence across social contexts.. Ed. R. Harre & F. Moghaddam. Sanata Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2016.
  • David Lightfoot. "Transparency." Cambridge Handbook of Historical Syntax. Ed. A. Ledgway & I. Roberts. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
  • David Lightfoot. "Acquisition and learnability." Cambridge Handbook of Historical Syntax. Ed. A. Ledgway & I. Roberts. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
  • David Lightfoot. "Imperfect transmission and discontinuity." Cambridge Handbook of Historical Syntax. Ed. A. Ledgway & I. Roberts. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
  • David Lightfoot. "Nothing makes sense in syntax except in the light of change." Language, syntax, and the natural sciences. Ed. A. Gallego & R. Martin. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
  • David Lightfoot. "How to trigger elements of I-languages." Fifty years later: Reflections on Chomsky’s Aspects. Ed. A. Gallego & D. Ott. Cambridge, MA: MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 77, 2015.
  • David Lightfoot. "Changing explanations for change." Oxford handbook of diachronic and historical linguistics. Ed. P. Crisma & G. Longobardi. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.
  • David Lightfoot. "Doing diachrony." In search of Universal Grammar: From Old Norse to Zoque. Ed. Terje Lohndal. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2013: 259-273
  • David Lightfoot. "Explaining matrix/subordinate domain discrepancies." Main clause phenomena: New horizons. Ed. L. Aelbrecht, L. Haegeman & R. Nye. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2012: 159-176
  • David Lightfoot. "Language acquisition and language change." Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science. Ed. Peter Culcover. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.
  • David Lightfoot. "Natural selection-itis." Oxford Handbook of Language Evolution. Ed. M. Tallerman & K. Gibson. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2011: 313-317
  • David Lightfoot. "Foreword." Minimalist inquiries into child and adult language acquisition. Ed. A. Pires & J Rothman. New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 2009.
  • David Lightfoot. "Abstraction and performance." What counts as evidence in linguistics? The case of innateness. Ed. M. Penke & A. Rosenbach. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2007: 283-286
  • A. Bement, J. Collins, J. Wing, R. Buckius, J. Moyers, D. Atkins, K. Erb, K. Olson & David Lightfoot. "NSF’s observing systems: Platforms for large-scale environmental research." The Full Picture. Ed. None. Geneva: Group on Earth Observations, 2007.
  • David Lightfoot & Ralph Fasold. "The structure of sentences." An introduction to language and linguistics. Ed. J. Connor-Linton & R. Fasold. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
  • David Lightfoot. "Cuing a different grammar." Handbook on the history of English. Ed. A van Kemenade and B. Los. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
  • David Lightfoot. "Plato’s problem, UG and the language organ." Companion to Noam Chomsky. Ed. J. McGilvray. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
  • David Lightfoot. "Grammaticalization: Cause of effect?." Motives for language change. Ed. R. Hickey. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
  • David Lightfoot. "Formal grammar." Oxford International Encyclopedia of Linguistics, 2nd edition. Ed. W. Frawley. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • David Lightfoot. "The development of grammars ." The 2nd State-of-the-Article Book. Ed. L. Cheng & R. Sybesma. Berlin: Mouton de Gruter, 2003: 1-24
  • David Lightfoot. "Grammatical approaches to syntactic change." Handbook of historical linguistics. Ed. R. Janda & B. Joseph. Oxford: Blackwell, 2002.
  • David Lightfoot. "Language acquisition and language change." Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. Ed. Lynn Nadel. London: Macmillan, 2002.
  • David Lightfoot. "Quanto tempo durou o siculo XIX? (How long was the 19th century?)." Homenagem a Mary Kato. Ed. C. Galves, J. Nunes & E. Raposo. : D.E.L.T.A., 2000: 69-86
  • David Lightfoot. "The spandrels of the linguistic genotype." The evolutionary emergence of language. Ed. J. Hurford, C. Knight, & M. Studdert-Kennedy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000: 231-247
  • David Lightfoot. "Ellipses as clitics." Ellipsis in conjunction. Ed. K. Schwabe & N. Zhang. Tubingen: Niemeyer, 2000: 79-94
  • David Lightfoot. "Creoles and cues." Language creation and change: Creolization, diachrony and development. Ed. M. DeGraff. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999: 431-52
  • David Lightfoot. "Language variation and change." The MIT encyclopedia of the cognitive sciences. Ed. F. Keil & R. Wilson. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999: 156-8
  • David Lightfoot. "Shifting trigger and diachronic reanalyses." Parameters of morphosyntactic change. Ed. A. van Kemenade & N. Vincent . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997: 253-272
  • David Lightfoot. "Languages." Triumph of discovery: Scientific American 150 Anniversary Book. Ed. Scientific American. New York1: Holt & Co., 1995: 124-29
  • David Lightfoot. "Degree-0 learnability." Syntactic theory and first language acquisition: Crosslinguistic perspectives. Vol 2: Binding, dependencies and learnability. Ed. B. Lust, G. Hermon & J. Kornfilt. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1994: 453-372
  • David Lightfoot. "Why UG needs a learning theory: Triggering verb movement." Historical linguistics: Problems and perspectives. Ed. C. Jones. London: Longman, 1993: 190-214
  • N. Hornstein & David Lightfoot. "The nature of lexical government." Principles and parameters in comparative syntax. Ed. R. Freidin. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1991: 365-391
  • David Lightfoot. "Obsolescence and Universal Grammar." Papers from the 5th International Conference on English Historical Linguistics. Ed. S. Adamson, V. Law, N. Vincent & S. Wright. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1990: 281-292
  • David Lightfoot. "Modelling language development." Mind and cofnition. Ed. W. Lycan. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990: 646-659
  • David Lightfoot. "Old heads and new heads." Grammar in Progress: GLOW studies for Henk van Riemsdijk. Ed. J. Mascaro & M. Nespor. Dordrecht: Foris, 1990: 317-322
  • David Lightfoot. "Modelling language change: Ontogenetic and phylogenetic." Newton to Aristotle: Toward a theory of models for living systems. Ed. J. Casti & A. Karlqvist. Cambridge, MA: Birkhauser Boston, 1989: 245-280
  • David Lightfoot. "Creoles, triggers and Universal Grammar." On Language: A Festschrift for R.P. Stockwell. Ed. C. Duncan-Rose & T. Vennemann. London: Routledge, 1988: 97-105
  • David Lightfoot. "Syntactic change." Linguistics: The Cambridge Survey. Ed. F. Newmeyer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988: 303-323
  • David Lightfoot. "Explaining syntactic change." Explanation in linguistics. Ed. Hornstein & Lightfoot. London: Longman, 1981: 209-240
  • David Lightfoot. "The history of NP movement." The logical problem of language acquisition. Ed. C. L. Baker & J. McCarthy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1981: 86-119
  • David Lightfoot. "Trace theory and explanation." Current approaches to syntax [Syntax and semantics vol. 13]. Ed. E. Moravcsik & J. Wirth. New York: Academic Press, 1980: 137-165
  • David Lightfoot. "The history of NP Movement." Lexical grammer. Ed. T. Hoekstra et al. Dordrecht: Foris Publications, 1980.
  • David Lightfoot. "On traces and conditions on rules." Formal Syntax. Ed. P. Culicover, T. Wasow & A. Akmajian. New York: Academic Press, 1977: 207-238
  • David Lightfoot. "The base component as a locus of syntactic change." Current progress in historical linguistics. Ed. W. Christie. North Holland: Amsterdam, 1976: 17-37
  • David Lightfoot. "Diachronic syntax: extraposition and deep structure re-analyses." Proceedings of the North East Linguistics Society . Ed. E. Kaisse. : Harvard University, 1975: 200-215
Edited books
Book reviews
Conference proceedings