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Patrick Farrell


  • Ph.D., Linguistics, UC San Diego, 1991
  • B.A., Psychology, UC Santa Cruz, 1975


Curriculum Vitae

Patrick Farrell teaches courses on syntax and grammatical analysis, linguistic theory, language universals and typology, English grammar, and English as a global language. He developed an innovative new general education course for undergraduate students on Oral Academic Communication. With Kristen Greer, recent Ph.D. recipient in Linguistics, and other collaborators, he also developed an innovative flipped version of Introduction to Linguistics, with the support of a Provost Hybrid Course Award. He regularly serves as a consultant and expert witness for legal matters in which the meaning and usage of the English language is at stake, as in trademark litigation, the interpretation of statutes and contracts, and the establishment of author identity. His published work, which has appeared in numerous journals, proceedings periodicals, and books, focuses primarily on issues in English and comparative syntax and semantics from various theoretical orientations in both generative and cognitive/functional traditions. His research also encompasses aspects of the grammar of Romance languages, particularly Brazilian Portuguese, and issues of meaning and culture and language learning and teaching. He is serving the Linguistic Society of America as Secretary-Treasurer, member of the Executive Committee, and chair of the Committee on Publications. At UC Davis he is a member of the Executive Committee of the Institute for Social Sciences. Other service to the University of California and the State of California has included appointments as

  • chair of the Department of Linguistics,
  • director in Brazil for the UC Education Abroad Program,
  • member of the Board of Directors of ASSIST,
  • chair of the UC Davis Committee on Admissions and Enrollment, and 
  • campus representative to the UC Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools (BOARS).

Research Focus

Professor Farrell’s research explores how human language works and how various theories of linguistics model this, focusing on issues in the syntax and semantics of English, language typology and cross-linguistic and diachronic comparison, the structure of words and sentences and how these relate to meaning and how people conceptualize the world, language in popular use as displayed in online corpora and what this tells us about human cultures and about how people think and know, and how the scientific study of language can elucidate matters of public policy and procedure, particularly in the domain of trademark law.