Philip Duncan

Philip Duncan
  • Affiliate Faculty, Indigenous Studies
  • Assistant Teaching Professor, Linguistics

Contact Info

Blake Hall, room 304A
1451 Lilac Ln.
Lawrence, KS 66045


Ph.D. in Linguistics, University of Kansas, 2017, Lawrence, KS
M.A. in Linguistics, University of Kansas, 2013, Lawrence, KS
M.A. in Indigenous Studies, University of Kansas, 2011, Lawrence, KS


I'm a linguist with research interests in morphology and syntax, and a propensity for the sociocultural.

Within morphosyntax and field linguistics, my research has explored the types of architectures that are implicated in various constructions across the clausal spine, from verbal structures to focus constructions. I'm particularly interested in the role of the syntactic component of grammar in generating structures and meanings, and how it interfaces with other systems that make part of what we call language. Most of my work within these subdisciplines has been with Indigenous languages (particularly in the Americas and West Africa), recognizing their inherent value and the need for diversity in linguistics to understand human language(s).

My current research takes a holistic approach to the morphosyntax of Me'phaa, an Otomanguean language from Guerrero, Mexico, attending to the interrelatedness of verbal structures, semantics and clausal structures. I consider how verbs in the language effectively image core geometries, providing a basis from which meanings and verb-initial structures are built, and an explanation for the language's complex manifestation of ergativity.

Beyond generative linguistics, I also investigate aspects of language use that tend to fall within the purview of sociocultural linguistics, in particular issues related to identity, ideologies and discrimination. Most of my work with a sociocultural flair has been done using methods from the discourse-historical and sociocognitive approaches to Critical Discourse Studies, as well as social semiotics. 

Selected Publications

Philip T. Duncan & Harold Torrence. (to appear). Headless relative clauses in Iliatenco Me'phaa. In I. Caponigro, H. Torrence, & R. Zavala, (eds.), Headless Relative Clauses in Mesoamerican Languages. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Lingbuzz

Harold Torrence, Pedro Mateo Pedro, & Philip T. Duncan. (under review). Non-interrogative wh-expressions in Kaqchikel.

Philip T. Duncan, Valerie (Lamxayat) Switzler, & Henry B. Zenk. (under review). Chinookan family, with special reference to Kiksht and notes on the larger family.

Philip T. Duncan. (under review). Me'phaa indefinite pronouns: Descriptive characteristics and typological implications. 

Philip T. Duncan. (2019). Unaccusative structures and verbal suppletion in Meꞌphaa from Iliatenco (.pdf). In R. Stockwell, M. O’Leary, Z. Xu, & Z.L. Zhou, (eds.), Proceedings of the 36th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla.

Margit Bowler, Philip T. Duncan, Travis Major, & Harold Torrence. (eds.). (2019). Schuhschrift: Papers in Honor of Russell Schuh. eScholarship.

Philip T. Duncan, Travis Major, & Mfon Udoinyang. (2019). Verb and predicate coordination in Ibibio. In E. Clem, P. Jenks, & H. Sande (eds.), Theory and Description in African Linguistics: Selected Papers from the 47th Annual Conference on African Linguistics. Berlin: Language Science Press.

Philip T. Duncan & Harold Torrence. (2018). Headless relative clauses in Me'phaa from Iliatenco. Headless relative clauses in Mesoamerican languages. CIESAS Sureste, San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. May 29, 2018. Workshop website

Philip T. Duncan, Travis Major, & Mfon Udoinyang. (2018). Searching high and low for focus in Ibibio. In J. Kandybowicz, T. Major, & H. Torrence (eds.), African Linguistics on the Prairie: Selected Papers from the 45th Annual Conference on African Linguistics.

Jason Kandybowicz, Travis Major, Harold Torrence, & Philip T. Duncan. (eds.). (2018). African Linguistics on the Prairie: Selected Papers from the 45th Annual Conference on African Linguistics. Berlin: Language Science Press.

Philip T. Duncan. (2017). The role of argument structure in Me'phaa verbal agreement [Doctoral dissertation] (.pdf). University of Kansas.

Lizette Peter, Tracy Hirata-Edds, Durbin Feeling, Wyman Kirk, Ryan "Wahde" Mackey, & Philip T. Duncan. (2017). The Cherokee Nation immersion school as a translanguaging spaceJournal of American Indian Education, 56(1), 5-31.

Michelle Reed, Philip T. Duncan, & Germaine Halegoua (2017). Engaging our student partners: Student leadership in a library-initiated experiential learning project. In Merinda K. Hensley & Stephanie Davis-Kahl (eds.), Undergraduate Research and the Academic Librarian: Case Studies and Best Practices. Association of College & Research Libraries.

Philip T. Duncan. (2016). Parallel chain formation in Ibibio contrastive verb focus. In E. Clem, V. Dawson, A. Shen, A. H. Skilton, G. Bacon, A. Cheng, & E. H. Maier, (eds.), Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Berkeley Linguistics Society, 87-106.

Philip T. Duncan (ed.). (2014). Studies in Ibibio Grammar. Field Methods in Linguistic Description, Vol. 2. Lawrence, KS: KU Department of Linguistics.

Philip T. Duncan. (2014). The commodification of Kaqchikel: A commodities chain approach to the Kaqchikel language in the Foreign Language and Area Studies Program (.pdf)Kansas Working Papers in Linguistics, 35, 30-52.

Philip T. Duncan. (2014). Remembering the future: Temporal tensions in the discursive construction and commemoration of IsraelCritical Discourse Studies, 11(4), 416-440.

Philip T. Duncan. (2013). The morpho-syntax of indefinite pronouns in Me'phaa [master's thesis] (.pdf). University of Kansas.

Philip T. Duncan. (2012). The discursive protection of national interests: Indigenous erasure in Internet news revisionsJournal of Language and Politics, 11(3), 357-381.

Philip T. Duncan. (2011). Commemorating Israel, forgetting Palestine: Representation and remembering in dispensational discourses [master's thesis] (.pdf). University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS.