Carlos Acuña Fariña

I work as a Full Professor of English Language and Linguistics at the University of Santiago de Compostela. I studied English Philology in Santiago (1988-1993) and specialized in English Linguistics at the same university on a grant by the Spanish MInistry of Education and Science.

In 1993 I completed my doctorade. The title of my thesis was ‘On so-called appositive structures in English’. In 1996 I was appointed Associate Professor of English in Santiago de Compostela and since December 2007 I hold the chair in English Language and Linguistics.

My published work started with follow-ups to my thesis (so it involved work on the notion of apposition) but soon morphed into psycholinguistic issues, such as the processing of empty infinitival subjects, relative clauses and agreement. In essence, I am equally interested in grammar and processing. Right now, both the grammar and the processing of agreememt occupy most of my time.

LECTURE: On constraints, architectural opportunism and directionality: a psycholinguistic narrative

The faculty of language is often conceived in two fundamentally different ways. From one point of view, it is a perfect design that runs on a series ofbullet-proof rules and theorems of an immanent kind. The main purpose of this creation is not communication among individuals but the expression of inner thought. From another point of view, language is the result of communicative needs and evolution. Since communicative needs differ in production and comprehension, language is a compromise between these two poles. Here I re-examine the research I have been involved in on the processing of so-called empty categories, agreement and relative clauses to argue for the latter view. It will be suggested that both intra-linguistically and cross-linguistically, processing biases do not usually reveal modular and encapsulated operations  (amenable in principle to independent analysis), but rather  a complex, unified, dialogical system. In this system we can discern a fairly large number of interacting constraints, at least a few parallel generative engines, and nostrict, fixedordering of operations. That is, we see flexibility and goal-oriented bias setting, instead of pure, elegant context-free design.