Ray Jackendoff
Seth Merrin Professor of Philosophy Emeritus
Emeritus Co-director, Center for Cognitive Studies
Tufts University

Ray Jackendoff received his Ph.D. in linguistics from MIT in 1969. His research centers around the system of meaning in natural language, how it is related to the human conceptual system, and how it is expressed linguistically. This has led him to a cognitive approach to traditional philosophical issues of inference and reference, embodied in his theory of Conceptual Semantics. In developing this approach, he has worked on the conceptualization of space, on the relationship between language, perception, and consciousness, and, most recently, on the conceptualization of such socially grounded concepts as value, morality, fairness, and obligations. In addition, in exploring how concepts are expressed in language, he has developed new models of the architecture of the human language faculty and its evolution.

Jackendoff is also a classical clarinetist, performing frequently in recital and chamber music in the Boston area. Through his musical interests, he has collaborated with composer Fred Lerdahl on a theory of musical cognition modeled on generative linguistics. The 25th anniversary of their book A Generative Theory of Tonal Music was celebrated in 2008 with conferences in Paris and Dijon and also at Tufts.

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.


Book Cover for A User's Guide to Thought and Meaning. Shows the title over an abstract color pattern.

A User’s Guide to Thought and Meaning,
Oxford University Press, 2012

Book Cover for Meaning and the Lexicon. Shows a cactus in the desert.

Meaning and the Lexicon: The Parallel Architecture 1975-2010, Oxford University Press, 2010

Book Cover for Language, Consciousness, Culture. A view of the Eiffel Tower through some trees.

Language, Consciousness, Culture: Essays on Mental Structure, MIT Press, 2007

Book Cover for Simpler Syntax. Shows a large tree in a flowery field.

Simpler Syntax (with Peter W. Culicover), Oxford University Press, 2005

Book Cover for Foundations of Language. Shows a large tree in a grassy field.

Foundations of Language: Brain, Meaning, Grammar, Evolution, Oxford University Press, 2002

Mailing Address:
Center for Cognitive Studies
115 Miner Hall
Tufts University
Medford, MA 02155 USA

Telephone: (617) 627-4348
Fax: (617) 627-3952
Email: ray.jackendoff@tufts.edu


Compositions and arrangements by Ray Jackendoff: Scores and parts

Album Artwork for Cadenza! Shows a collage of musical notes and colors.

Modern American Duos for Clarinet or Basset Horn & Piano. Ray Jackendoff, clarinet & basset horn; John MacDonald, piano. Works by Aaron Copland, Elliot Carter, John MacDonald, Arthur Berger and Yehudi Wyner.

Album Artwork for Romanian Music. Shows a church in the mountains.

Romanian Music for clarinet and piano, with Valentina Sandu-Dediu, piano. Music of Martian Negrea, Stefan Niculescu, Dan Dediu, and Constantin Silvestri. Albany Records, 2003.

Click on the images above to be directed to Albany Records

Downloadable Excerpts

Negrea: Lullaby

Negrea: Dance