Research Interests

My areas of research are connected by an overarching theoretical interest in linguistic variation within the Germanic language family and the dynamics of linguistic change over time.  Methodologically, these two areas of investigation are united by the use corpora for quantitative analysis of earlier stages of a language's history.  In general, my scholarship lies at the intersection of historical linguistics, corpus linguistics, and the digital humanities.  I use corpora from early stages of English, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish and German to answer questions about how, when, and why languages change over longer periods of time.



light verb network.jpeg

Some Current Projects


  • A sociolinguistic analysis of support verb constructions in German, analyzing the frequency and distribution of phrases like Frage stellen vs. fragen in written and spoken German

  • A diachronic approach to light verb constructions  that utilizes network analysis tools to examine light verbs as"hubs" that become more central in a growing network of collocations over time.

  • A diachronic, exemplar-based model of light verb constructions in which certain high-frequency verb-noun pairings function as models for analogy in the creation of novel expressions of complex predicates

  • An analysis of genre differences in light verb usage in the Corpus of Historical American English (COHA)

  • A new approach to text selection in historical corpus linguistics that helps achieve balance of texts across genres, time periods, and word count, with texts selected by a genetic algorithm. 

    Sundquist and Rothwell.  2019.  Combinatorial Optimization and Genetic Algorithims in Text Selection for Corpus-Based Historical Linguistics Research.  Unpublished manuscript.


  • A closer analysis of Old Saxon Hêliand manuscripts that examines the intersection of syntax, meter, punctuation and scribal practices

James Stratton and John D. Sundquist.  (forthcoming).  "A Variationist Sociolinguistic Analysis of Norwegian Intensifiers."  To appear in Journal of Germanic Linguistics.
Sundquist, John D. (2022).  "An Exemplar-Based Approach to Composite Predicates in the History of American English."  To appear in English Language and Linguistics.  Open Access here.

Sundquist, John D. 2020.  "Richness, Productivity, and Diversity of Light Verb Constructions in the  History of American English."  In Journal of Historical Linguistics 10(3), 349-388.

Sundquist, John D. 2020. "The Rich Get Richer: Preferential Attachment and the Diachrony of Light Verbs in Old Swedish."  In Historical Linguistics 2017, Bridget Drinka (ed.), 344-361. John Benjamins.

Sundquist, John D.  2019.  "What's the Point? Syntax, Meter, and the Use of the Punctus in the Hêliand C and  M Manuscripts." In Beitrage zur Geschichte der deutschen Sprache und Literatur  141(4):449-476.

Sundquist, John D. 2019. "Multidisciplinary Group Composition in the STEAM Classroom."  In STEAM Education:  Theory, Research, and Practice, Myint Swe Khine and Michael Melkonian (eds), 165-188.  Springer   Publishing, Bern, Switzerland. 
Sundquist, John D.  2018.  "A Diachronic Analysis of Light Verb Constructions in Old Swedish."  Journal of  Germanic Linguistics 30:257–304. 
Caroline Heycock and John D. Sundquist.  2017.  "Don't Rush to Rehabilitate:  A Remark on Koeneman &  Zeiljstra."  Linguistic Inquiry 48:173-179.
Sundquist, John D. 2015.  "Beer and Brewing in German Culture:  Bridging the Gap Between STEAM Disciplines."     The STEAM Journal:  Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics, Vol. 2, Issue 1, Article 7.  DOI:    10.5642/steam.20150201.7
Sundquist, John D. 2012. "Negative Movement in the History of Norwegian:  the Evolution of a Grammatical  Virus." In Grammatical Change: Origins, Nature, Outcomes, Dianne Jonas and John Whitman (eds.), 293-312.    Oxford: Oxford University.
Sundquist, John D.  2010.  "Variation, Continuity, and Contact in Middle Low German and Middle Norwegian." In Continuity and Change in Grammar, Anne Breitbarth, Christopher Lucas, Sheila Watts, David Willis (eds.),  145-166.  Amsterdam:  John Benjamins.
Sundquist, John D. 2010.  "The Long and Short of It:  The Use of Short Film in German Teaching."  Die
Unterrichtspraxis  43:123-133.
Sundquist, John D. and C. Neary-Sundquist.  2007. "The Role of Student Evaluations in Teacher Training and Curriculum Design:  How Much is the Course a Reflection of the Teacher?"  In From Thought to Action: Exploring Beliefs and Outcomes in the Foreign Language Program, Jay Siskin (ed.), 245-260.  Boston:  Heinle Publishing.

Sundquist, John D.  2007.   "Variable Use of Negation in Middle Low German."  In Historical Linguistics 2005, Joseph
Salmons and Shannon Dubenion-Smith (eds.), 149-166.  Amsterdam:  John Benjamins. 

Sundquist, John D. 2006.  "Syntactic Variation and Change in the History of Norwegian:  The Decline of XV Word Order."  Diachronica:  International Journal of Historical Linguistics 23:105-141. 

Sundquist, John D. 2003.  "The Rich Agreement Hypothesis in Early Modern Danish."  Nordic Journal of Linguistics 26.2:4-34.

Sundquist, John D. 2002. "Relative Clause Variation and the Unity of Beowulf."  Journal of Germanic Linguistics

Sundquist, John D.  2002. "Object Shift and Holmberg’s Generalization in the History of Norwegian." In Syntactic Effects of Morphological Change, David Lightfoot (ed.), 326-350. Oxford:  Oxford University Press.
Sundquist, John D. 1998.  "Clause Arrangement in the Poetry of Kormákr Ogmundarson." Skandinavistik 1998:1-25.

Sundquist, John D. 2012.  “Grammaticalization, Light Verbs, and the Origins of Complex Language.” The Evolution of
Language.  Proceedings of the 9th International Conference (EVOLANG IX).   Thomas C. Scott-Phillips, Monica Tamariz, Erica A. Cartmill, and James R. Hurford (eds.). 549-550.  London:  World Scientific Publishing.
Sundquist, John D.  2005.  “The Mapping Problem and Missing Surface Inflection in Turkish-German Interlanguage."  In Proceedings of the 7th Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition Conference (GASLA 2004), Laurent Dekydtspotter, Rex Sprouse, and Audrey Liljestrand (eds.), 238-250.      Somerville, MA:  Cascadilla. 

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles and Peer-Reviewed Book Chapters
Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles and Peer-Reviewed Book Chapters