Department of Linguistics,
University of Victoria
Clearihue Building (Main Office: D341)
3800 Finnerty Road (Ring Road)
Victoria, British Columbia
My 2013 dissertation explores the argument-typing system of Blackfoot, a Plains Algonquian language spoken in Southern Alberta and Northwestern Montana. It develops a classification of the phrases, words, and morphemes in Blackfoot that are associated with arguments of the predicate (nominal expressions and argument-indexing verbal morphology) according to their internal and external syntax. The analysis developed in the dissertation sheds light on how and why Blackfoot displays properties of a non-configurational language. The main thesis is that non-configurationality in Blackfoot is a conspiracy resulting from properties of Blackfoot’s argument-typing system, and in particular the proximate/obviative contrast, a type of reference-tracking morphology that disambiguates between multiple 3rd persons in a clause.
Building on my dissertation research, I am continuing to investigate the mapping of morphemes in this polysynthetic language onto clausal and nominal structures. In particular, these days I am exploring the syntax of prepositions and PPs, bare nouns, incorporated nouns, evidential affixes, and the CP domain.
I have been doing linguistic fieldwork on Blackfoot since 2003, and in that time, I have researched a range of topics related to Blackfoot grammar, including the direct/inverse system, obviation, cross-clausal agreement, aspect and modality, information structure and focus particles, phonological variation, and soundless vowels.
In addition to Blackfoot, I have done fieldwork and research on Shona, a Bantu language, Douglas Lake Okanagan, a Southern Interior Salish language, and Turkish. My interests in Shona are largely centered around issues related to argument structure and its interface with information structure, with a specific focus on applicatives, the passive, topicalization, and expletives. My work on Douglas Lake Okanagan focused on the phonetics and phonology of pharyngeal segments, and my research on Turkish focused on the syntax and semantics of bare nouns.
My full CV can be found here.
2013 PhD, University of British Columbia
Dissertation: The Blackfoot Configurationality Conspiracy: Parallels and Differences in Clausal and Nominal Structures
Supervisor: Dr. Martina Wiltschko
2005 MA, University of Calgary
Thesis: Formalizing Point-of-View: The Role of Sentience in Blackfoot's Direct/Inverse System
Supervisor: Dr. Elizabeth Ritter
Bliss, Heather. 2014. Assigning Reference in Clausal Nominalizations. In Paul, Ileana (ed.) Crosslinguistic Investigations of Nominalization Patterns. John Benjamins.
Bliss, Heather, Elizabeth Ritter, and Martina Wiltschko. To appear. A Comparative Analysis of Theme Marking in Blackfoot and Nishnaabemwin. In Macaulay, Monica and Rand Valentine (eds.) Papers of the 42nd Algonquian Conference.[pre-print version]
Bliss, Heather. 2012. A Split DP Analysis of Blackfoot Nominal Expressions. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Canadian Linguistic Association. Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfred Laurier University, May 26-28, 2012. [handout]
Bliss, Heather. 2012. How Not to Draw a Tree in Blackfoot. Guest Lecture for Linguistics 432/532, Field Methods. [handout]
Gick, Bryan, Heather Bliss, Karin Michelson, and Bosko Radanov. 2011. Articulation without Acoustics: “Soundless” Vowels in Oneida and Blackfoot. Journal of Phonetics 40: 46-53.
Bliss, Heather. 2010. Blackfoot ikak-: A Case Study in “only” and “even.” Paper presented at MOSAIC 2. Montreal: McGill University, June 1, 2010. [handout]
Bliss, Heather. 2010. Argument Structure, Applicatives, and Animacy in Blackfoot. In Bliss, Heather, and Raphael Girard (eds). Proceedings of the 13th and 14th Workshop on the Structure and Constituency of Languages of the Americas. UBC Working Papers in Linguistics, Volume 26.
Bliss, Heather, and Jennifer Glougie. 2010. Speaker Variation and the Phonetic Realization of Blackfoot Obviation Morphology. In Bliss, Heather, and Raphael Girard (eds). Proceedings of the 13th and 14th Workshop on the Structure and Constituency of Languages of the Americas. UBC Working Papers in Linguistics, Volume 26.
Bliss, Heather. 2009. Comparing APPLs and Oranges: The Syntax of Shona Applicatives. In Ojo, Akinloye, and Lioba Moshi (eds). Select Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference on African Lingusitics. Cascadilla. [unpublished extended version, UBC Qualifying Paper]
Bliss, Heather. 2009. Structuring Information in Blackfoot: Against an A’-Agreement Analysis of Cross-Clausal Agreement. Proceedings of the 2008 Canadian Linguistics Association Annual Conference.
Bliss, Heather. 2009. Desperately Seeking Syntax: Evidence for A-Movement in Blackfoot’s Direct/Inverse. Unpublished manuscript, UBC.
Bliss, Heather, and Elizabeth Ritter. 2009. Speaker Certainty, Event Realization, and Epistemic Modality in Siksiká Blackfoot. Unpublished manuscript, UBC and University of Calgary.
Bliss, Heather. 2007. Object Agreement in Blackfoot: Sentient and Non-Sentient Controllers. In Wolfart, H.C. (ed). Papers of the 38th Algonquian Conference.
Bliss, Heather. 2005. Topic, Focus, and Point-of-View in Blackfoot. In Alderete, John, Chung-hye Han, and Alexei Kochetov, eds. Proceedings of the 24th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics. Cascadilla Proceedings Project: 61-69.
Linguistics 201, Linguistic Theory and Analysis (Introduction to Syntax and Semantics)
Linguistics 300, Studies in Grammar(Intermediate Syntax)