William Croft
Professor, Emeritus

Personal Website

My interests in language are broad, but my central interests are in how meaning and function are encoded in grammatical form, and in the variation, diversity and evolution of languages. I take a functional-typological approach to the analysis of grammar, drawing on the insights of construction grammar and cognitive linguistics. I have also developed an evolutionary framework for understanding language change, and collaborate in modeling language change processes in this framework.

Educational History

1978, A.M. in Linguistics, University of Chicago
1986, Ph.D. in Linguistics, Stanford University (dissertation: "Categories and relations in syntax: the clause-level organization of information"; Joseph H. Greenberg, principal advisor)

Research interests

Typology and universals, construction grammar, semantics, cognitive linguistics, language change

Selected Publications


  • Verbs: Aspect and Causal Structure (Oxford University Press, 2012)
  • Ten Lectures on Construction Grammar and Typology (Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, Beijing, 2012)
  • Joseph H. Greenberg, Genetic Linguistics, ed. William Croft (Oxford University Press, 2005)
  • Cognitive Linguistics [William Croft and Alan Cruse] (Cambridge University Press, 2004)
  • Typology and Universals, 2nd edition (Cambridge University Press, 2003)
  • Radical Construction Grammar: Syntactic Theory in Typological Perspective (Oxford University Press, 2001)
  • Explaining Language Change (Longman, 2000)
  • Syntactic Categories and Grammatical Relations (University of Chicago Press, 1991)
  • Studies in Typology and Diachrony, ed. William Croft, Keith Denning and Suzanne Kemmer (John Benjamins, 1990)

Recent Articles & Book Chapters

  • [R. A. Blythe and W. Croft] S-curves and the mechanisms of propagation in language change. Language 88.269-304 (2012).
  • Relativity, linguistic variation and language universals. CogniTextes 4.303 [http://cognitextes.revues.org/303/] (2010)
  • The origins of grammaticalization in the verbalization of experience. Linguistics 48.1-48 (2010).
  • [G. J. Baxter, R. A. Blythe, W. Croft, A. J. McKane] Modeling language change: an evaluation of Trudgill's theory of the emergence of New Zealand English. Language Variation and Change 21.157-96 (2009).
  • Toward a social cognitive linguistics. In New Directions in Cognitive Linguistics, ed. Vyvyan Evans and Stephanie Pourcel, 395-420. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Connecting frames and constructios: a case study of 'eat' and 'feed'. Constructions and Frames 1.7-28 (2009)
  • [W. Croft and K. T. Poole] Inferring universals from grammatical variation: multidimensional scaling for typological analysis. Theoretical Linguistics 34.1-37 (2008).
  • Intonation units and grammatical structure in Wardaman and English. Australian Journal of Linguistics 27.1-39 (2007).
  • The origins of grammar in the verbalization of experience. Cognitive Linguistics 18.339-82 (2007)

Teaching interests

Morphosyntax, Semantics, Typology, Language Change, Construction Grammar, Pragmatics

Representative courses

Ling 322 Grammatical Analysis; Ling 412/512 Morphosyntax; Ling 425/525 Semantic Analysis; Ling 417/517 Typology and Universals; Ling 446/546 Introduction to Language Change