Jim Donaldson

PhD Linguistics & English Language

  • Linguistics and English Language
  • School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences

Contact details



Dugald Stewart Building

3 Charles Street, Edinburgh
Post code



My MSc dissertation in 2013 was on the interpretation of elliptical why questions ("Why do that?", "Why him?").

My PhD dissertation has been underway since then and is expected in 2018.  It is on the control of zero anaphora in English, particularly with respect to free adjuncts.  I provide evidence against an independent syntax module, and show how listeners must draw inferences based on event types, available referents and other information.  I also show how these results fall out of a dynamic approach to sentence comprehension.

I have been hired as a research assistant for PLAEME (A Parsed Linguistic Atlas of Early Middle English).  My job is to correct the parsing for approximately 200,000 words of Early Middle English spread across 40 texts.

I am also the coordinator for the PPLS Writing Centre.


I teach several courses at the Centre for Open Learning: Linguistics (2 sections), History of English, Psycholinguistics, Sociolinguistics and Introduction to English Grammar.  I am also a tutor in Introduction to Cognitive Science.


I've been working on animated linguistics videos with a number of professors (Caroline Heycock and Geoff Pullum, with more on the way).  These videos have been posted to the PPLS LEL YouTube channel

I'm also the video manager for the UK Linguistics Olympiad.  I am currently collaborating with Graeme Trousdale on a series of videos designed to help students prepare for the competition.

Research summary

constraint-based grammar formalisms (particularly HPSG), ellipsis, anaphora, pragmatics, control