What kind of knowledge must speakers possess in order to produce and understand utterances? How is this knowledge organized, and how does it interact with other types of information during sentence processing? My research focuses on how sentence structure is linked to sentence meaning, with specific interest in unbounded dependency constructions, coordination, ellipsis, and linearization. I have specialized in surface-driven, construction-based, non-derivational grammatical frameworks such as HPSG/SBCG, and use corpora and controlled psycholinguistic experimentation to determine the division of labor between syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and cognition in shaping complex phenomena. I am particularly interested in how probabilistic information influences sentence processing and acceptability, and how it can explain apparently idiosyncratic patterns.

PhD Supervision


Representative research

  • Chaves, Rui P. and Michael T. Putnam. (in progress) Unbounded Dependency Constructions: theoretical and experimental perspectives, Oxford University Press.

  • Chaves, R. P. and A. King (to appear) "A usage-based account of subextraction effects" Journal of Cognitive Linguistics, pp.31

  • Sag, Ivan A., Rui P. Chaves, Anne Abeillé, Bruno Estigarribia, Dan Flickinger, Paul Kay, Laura Michaelis, Stefan Müller, Geoffrey K. Pullum, Frank Van Eynde, Thomas Wasow (to appear), "Lessons from the English auxiliary system" Journal of Linguistics, pp.68.

  • Chaves, R. P. and J. E. Dery (2019) "Frequency Effects in Subject Islands" Journal of Linguistics, 55(3), 475–521.

  • Chaves, R. P. (2018) "Freezing as a probabilistic phenomenon" In Jutta Hartmann, Marion Knecht, Andreas Konietzko and Susanne Winkler (eds.) Freezing - Theoretical Approaches and Empirical Domains, Studies in Generative Grammar series. 403–429. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter.

  • Chaves, R. P. (2014) "On the disunity of Right-Node Raising phenomena: extraposition, ellipsis, and deletion" Language, 90(4), 834–886.

  • Chaves, R. P. and J. E. Dery (2014) "Which subject islands will the acceptability of improve with repeated exposure?" In R. E. Santana-LaBarge (edt), 31st West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, pp. 96–106. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.