Frederick (Fritz) Newmeyer


  • BA, Geology, University of Rochester
  • MA, Linguistics, University of Rochester
  • PhD, Linguistics, University of Illinois


Dr. Newmeyer wrote his Ph.D. dissertation entitled English Aspectual Verbs under the direction of Robert B. Lees. His only permanent position has been in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Washington (from 1969 until his retirement in 2006), where he is now an emeritus professor. However, he has held visiting positions at a variety of universities around the world, including the University of Edinburgh, Wayne State University, University of London, Cornell University, University of Maryland, UCLA, Latrobe University, Universidade de São Paulo, Universidad Nacional del Comahue, Universiteit van Tilburg, Heinrich-Heine-Universität, École Normale Supérieure, Institut des Science Cognitives, Max-Planck-Institut for Evolutionary Anthropology, and University of Ljubljana. In 2002, Fritz was President of the Linguistic Society of America, from 2003-2006 Howard and Frances Nostrand Professor of Linguistics at Washington, and in 2006 he was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the Linguistic Society of America.

Dr. Newmeyer has published widely in theoretical and English syntax and is best known for his work on the history of generative syntax and for his arguments that linguistic formalism (i.e. generative grammar) and linguistic functionalism are not incompatible, but rather complementary. In the early 1990s he was one of the linguists who helped to renew interest in the evolutionary origin of language. More recently, he has argued that facts about linguistic typology are better explained by parsing constraints than by the principles and parameters model of grammar. Nevertheless, Fritz has continued to defend the basic principles of generative grammar, arguing that Ferdinand de Saussure's langue/parole distinction as well Noam Chomsky's distinction between linguistic competence and linguistic performance are essentially correct.


This instructor is currently not teaching any courses.