David Adger

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David Adger
Born (1967-09-23) 23 September 1967 (age 54)
Spouse(s)Anson W. Mackay
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh
ThesisFunctional heads and interpretation (1994)
Doctoral advisorElisabet Engdahl
Academic work
InstitutionsQueen Mary University of London

David Adger, FBA (born 23 September 1967) is a Professor of Linguistics at Queen Mary University of London. Adger is interested in the human capacity for syntax. Adger served as President of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain from 2015 to 2020.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Adger was born on 23 September 1967 in Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland.[2] At the age of eleven Adger became fascinated by language, reading Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea.[3] At the age of sixteen, Adger won a school competition coordinated by the University of St Andrews and spent the money on copies of Noam Chomsky's Aspects of the Theory of Syntax.[3] He studied linguistics and artificial intelligence at the University of Edinburgh. Adger has described his undergraduate teaching as one of the "exhilarating experiences of my life".[3] He remained in Edinburgh for his graduate studies, working toward a master's in cognitive science. He completed a doctorate under the supervision of Elisabet Engdahl in 1994.[4] During his doctorate he worked at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.[3] His doctoral research considered Agr nodes.

Research and career[edit]

Adger became a lecturer at the University of York in 1993.[5] In 2002 Adger moved to the Queen Mary University of London, where he had been appointed Reader in Linguistics.[2][5] He was appointed Professor of Linguistics in 2006.[2]

His research considers the science of language, and whether human brains create language because of our ability to recognise patterns or because of an innate ability to communicate via language.[6] He has investigated the nature of grammatical structure and the relationship between sociolinguistic theories and syntactic structure.[7]

In 2015, Adger was elected President of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain.ref>Smith, Jane. "Professor David Adger elected President of the LAGB - School of Languages, Linguistics and Film". www.qmul.ac.uk. Retrieved 26 February 2020.</ref> He visited the University of Maryland, College Park in 2016, where he delivered a series of lectures discussing minimalist syntax, semantics and merge.[8]

In July 2020, Adger was a notable signee on a petition for the removal of Steven Pinker from the Linguistic Society of America’s honorary status as Fellow of the society.[9]

Personal life[edit]

In 2006, Adger entered into a civil partnership with Anson W. Mackay.[2]

Selected publications[edit]



From 2007 to 2013 Adger served as editor of Syntax.[10][11]

Personal life[edit]

Adger is married to Anson W. Mackay, a geographer at University College London. He is a member of 500 Queer Scientists, an organisation that champions LGBT scientists and engineers.[12] Adger was listed as one Queen Mary University of London role models in 2018.[5]


  1. ^ "Professor David Adger elected President of the LAGB - School of Languages, Linguistics and Film". www.qmul.ac.uk. Retrieved 26 February 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d "Adger, Prof. David James, (born 23 Sept. 1967), Professor of Linguistics, Queen Mary University of London, since 2006". Who's Who 2022. Oxford University Press. 1 December 2021. Retrieved 7 June 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d "Featured Linguist: David Adger – The LINGUIST List". Retrieved 26 February 2020.
  4. ^ Adger, David; Engdahl, Elisabet; University of Edinburgh (1994). Functional heads and interpretation. hdl:1842/527. OCLC 827260851.
  5. ^ a b c "Diversity and Inclusion: Role Model Profile" (PDF). QMUL. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 November 2018. Retrieved 26 February 2020.
  6. ^ Krämer, Katrina; Denny, Jane; Durrani2019-11-14T09:28:00+00:00, Jamie. "Book Club – Language Unlimited by David Adger". Chemistry World. Retrieved 27 February 2020.
  7. ^ "David Adger - Authors". Inference: International Review of Science. Retrieved 27 February 2020.
  8. ^ "David Adger · Baggett Lectures". Linguistics at Maryland. Retrieved 26 February 2020.
  9. ^ "Open Letter to the LSA". Google Docs. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  10. ^ "Overview - Syntax". Wiley Online Library. doi:10.1111/(ISSN)1467-9612. Retrieved 26 February 2020.
  11. ^ "Brief Bio". David Adger. 16 February 2020. Retrieved 26 February 2020.
  12. ^ "Fullscreen Page". 500 Queer Scientists. Retrieved 26 February 2020.