Ray S. Jackendoff

Tufts University
Linguist; Educator
Humanities and Arts
Literature and Language Studies


Professor Ray S. Jackendoff is the Seth Merrin Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University. His central research focus is semantics of natural language and its relation to human cognition. Among his particular areas of interest have been semantics of spatial terms and extension to nonspatial domains; verb semantics and argument structure; and the syntax-semantics interface. Extensions of his work have led to an analysis of conscious experience in terms of levels of mental representation. Most recently this work has led to an overall rapport between generative grammar and cognitive neuroscience. In collaboration with Fred Lerdahl, he has developed a theory of musical cognition along first principles of generative grammar for language. He has performed as clarinet soloist with the Boston Pops and several other Boston-area orchestras.

Ray Jackendoff has been President of both the Linguistic Society of America and the Society for Philosophy and Psychology. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Linguistic Society of America, and the Cognitive Science Society. He has had fellowships at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences and the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, and has been a member of the External Faculty of the Santa Fe Institute. He holds honorary degrees from the Université du Québec à Montréal, the National University of Music in Bucharest, the Music Academy of Cluj-Napoca, the Ohio State University, and Tel Aviv University. He was awarded the 2003 Jean Nicod Prize in Cognitive Philosophy, and he is the 2014 recipient of the David E. Rumelhart Prize, the premier award in the field of cognitive science.
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