Joan Bresnan

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Joan Wanda Bresnan FBA (born August 22, 1945) is Sadie Dernham Patek Professor in Humanities Emerita at Stanford University.[1] She is best known as one of the architects (with Ronald Kaplan) of the theoretical framework of Lexical-Functional Grammar.[2]

After studying philosophy at Reed College Bresnan earned her doctorate in linguistics in 1972 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,[3] where she studied with Noam Chomsky.[4] In the early and mid 1970s, her work focused on complementation and wh-movement constructions within transformational grammar, and she frequently took positions at odds with those espoused by Chomsky.[5][6]

Her dissatisfaction with transformational grammar led her to collaborate with Kaplan on a new theoretical framework, Lexical-Functional Grammar (or LFG).[7] A volume of papers written in the new framework and edited by Bresnan, entitled The Mental Representation of Grammatical Relations, appeared in 1982.[8] Since then, Bresnan's work has focused on LFG analyses of various phenomena, primarily in English, Bantu languages, and Australian languages. She has also worked on analyses in optimality theory, and has pursued statistical approaches to linguistics. She has a strong interest in linguistic typology, which has influenced the development of LFG.[9]


Joan Bresnan served as the president of the Linguistic Society of America in 1999.[10]

She was honored in August 2005 with a festschrift entitled Architectures, Rules, and Preferences: A Festschrift for Joan Bresnan, published by CSLI Publications in December 2007.[11]

In 2016, she was selected as the ACL (Association for Computational Linguistics) Lifetime Achievement Award winner.[12] She was elected as a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy in 2015[13].


  1. ^ "Joan Bresnan: Current". Retrieved 2017-10-22.
  2. ^ "Lexical Functional Grammar - Glottopedia". Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  3. ^ "Alumni and their Dissertations – MIT Linguistics". Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  4. ^ "Joan Bresnan: Current". Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  5. ^ "The "Chomsky Effect": Episodes in Academic Activism". Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  6. ^ Flint, Antony (November 19, 1995). "Divided legacy Noam Chomsky's theory of linguistics revolutionized the field,..." Boston Globe. p. 25. Retrieved 4 August 2012.
  7. ^ Asudeh, Ash; Toivonen, Ida (2009-12-17). Lexical-Functional Grammar. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199544004.013.0017.
  8. ^ The Mental representation of grammatical relations. Bresnan, Joan. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. 1982. ISBN 0262021587. OCLC 8494468.
  9. ^ "Google Scholar". Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  10. ^ "Presidents | Linguistic Society of America". Retrieved January 25, 2015.
  11. ^ Architectures, rules, and preferences : variations on themes by Joan W. Bresnan. Bresnan, Joan., Zaenen, Annie E. (Annie Else), 1941-. Stanford, Calif.: CSLI Publications, Center for the Study of Language and Information. 2007. ISBN 9781575865607. OCLC 187417504.
  12. ^ "Joan Bresnan receives the 2016 ACL Life Time Achievement Award | ACL Member Portal". Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  13. ^ "British Academy Fellowship reaches 1,000 as 42 new UK Fellows are welcomed". 16 Jul 2015.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Li Sheng
ACL Lifetime Achievement Award
Succeeded by
Barbara J. Grosz