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Members and Associates of the Research Centre in Oxford: Academic Staff | Research students

Academic Staff

Professor Martin Maiden
Professor of the Romance Languages
Fellow of Trinity College

Prof Martin MaidenMartin Maiden has worked on the history of a range of Romance languages, including Portuguese, Spanish, French, Sardinian, Romansh, and Dalmatian, but his main area of interest is Romanian and Italo-Romance. He focuses particularly on historical morphology, and on the diachronic persistence and replication of apparently unmotivated morphological irregularities. He is co-editor of two major recent surveys of the Romance languages, namely the Cambridge History of the Romance Languages (2011/2013) and The Oxford Guide to the Romance Languages (2016).

Mr JC Smith
Deputy Director
Faculty Lecturer in French Linguistics
Fellow of St Catherine’s College

My main field of interest is historical morphosyntax, and I have published widely on agreement, refunctionalization, deixis, and the evolution of case and pronoun systems, with particular reference to Romance, although I have also worked on other language families, including Germanic and Austronesian.

Dr Sandra Paoli
Associate Professor in Linguistics (Romance Languages)
Fellow of Balliol College

Dr Sandra PaoliSandra’s research interests range from a number of phenomena in specific Romance varieties (e.g. North-Eastern Italian dialects, Raeto-Romance, Gascon, Galician) to specific phenomena (e.g. grammaticalization, pronominal forms, information structure – especially contrastive and mirative focus, complementisers and discourse, acquisition of functional categories) across Romance varieties. She favours a diachronic perspective coached within the gradience and gradualness notions applied to grammaticalization. Her original training was in transformational Syntax, and she still has an interest in the Cartographic approach to mapping syntactic positions. Her more recent work focuses on the diachronic trajectory of acquisition and loss of pronouns, and the development and spread of forms of the verb ‘to have’.

Dr Ros Temple
Associate Professor in French Linguistics
Fellow of New College

Dr Ros TempleRos works on phonetics and phonology and their interface, particularly in relation to variation in continuous speech (including sociophonetics). She has worked mainly on French, Welsh and English but has also supervised research on Béarnais, Spanish, Polish, Lithuanian and Cantonese, amongst other languages. She teaches French linguistics and Sociolinguistics. She is a Fellow of New College.

Professor Sophie Marnette
Professor of Medieval French Studies
Fellow of Balliol College

Prof Sophie MarnetteSophie Marnette’s research offers a linguistic and philological approach of literary issues such as the expression of narrative voice and point of view, the origins and evolution of medieval literary genres, the relationship between history and fiction, etc. Her first book Narrateur et points de vue dans la littérature française médiévale : Une approche linguistique (Peter Lang, 1998) focuses on storytelling in the French Middle Ages and her second book Speech and Thought in French: Concepts and Strategies (John Benjamins, 2005) studies reported discourse in medieval literary texts as well as in contemporary oral narratives, press and literature. Her current research project is entitled Quoting Her: Female Expression in Medieval French Narratives and funded through a British Academy research grant. It proposes a fresh interdisciplinary approach (i.e. linguistic, narratological and literary) that takes reported discourse as a meaningful criterion, based on textual evidences, to examine how female characters’ discourse is framed and how it is expressed in medieval French narratives. Using a corpus of lais, fabliaux and fabless ranging from the 12th to the 14th c., the analysis aims to assess whether female expression differs between these three literary genres and whether it is related to the specific ideologies that underlie each of them. Sophie Marnette is a founding and executive member of Ci-dit, an international research group on reported discourse (

Dr Ian Watson
Associate Professor in French Language and Linguistics
Fellow of Christ Church College

Prof Ian Watson

Dr Watson’s research interests are in linguistics and phonetics, with special reference to French, especially the description of modern French phonetics and phonology. He also works with speech perception, prosody, and language acquisition, especially the acquisition of sound patterns.

Dr Elinor Payne
Associate Professor in Phonetics and Phonology
Fellow of St Hilda's College

Dr Elinor Payne

Within Linguistics, Dr Payne specialises in theoretical and experimental phonetics and phonology. Her particular research interests include the acquisition of speech (especially prosody), speech production (especially timing, gemination, coarticulation, connected speech processes), the influence of speech behaviour on phonological structure and the nature and form of phonological knowledge.

Dr Juan-Carlos Conde
Associate Professor in Medieval Spanish Literature
Fellow of Magdalen College

Juan-Carlos Conde

Dr Conde’s main field of research is medieval Hispanic literature. He is the author of different publications on Pablo de Santa María, Poema de mio Cid, Celestina, Juan de Lucena’s Diálogo de vita beata, medieval historiography, medieval translation, and other topics related to that period. Others of his fields of expertise, in which he has also published extensively, are the history of the Spanish language (especially lexical history), textual criticism, bibliography, history of the book, and manuscript studies.

Dr Sam Wolfe
Departmental Lecturer in French Linguistics
Christ Church College

Dr Wolfe has particular research interests in the history of French and historical-comparative Romance linguistics. He has published widely on diachronic syntax, the Verb Second property, parameter theory, null arguments and subjects and so-called ‘cartographic’ approaches to clausal structure. He is currently finalising a monograph entitled ‘Verb Second in Medieval Romance’ which will be published with Oxford University Press in 2017.

Dr Richard Ashdowne
College Tutor in Linguistics

Richard Ashdowne mainly works on aspects of the history of Latin and French. He has a particular interest in the semantics and syntax of forms of address and their development. He spent six years as a lexicographer on the project compiling the Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources (, of which he became the third and final editor in 2011. He teaches a wide range of papers in linguistics as well as Latin and Greek language, and is the joint author of a Latin prose composition textbook.

Dr Chiara Cappellaro

Dr Steven Kaye
Lecturer in English Language at Jesus College

Steven Kaye read Classics and Modern Languages at University College, Oxford, before moving to Magdalen College for an MPhil and DPhil in Linguistics. His interests include Indo-European linguistics, morphological theory and documentation and description of endangered languages.

Dr Oana Uţă Bărbulescu
Lector in Romanian

Ms Sílvia Xicola-Tugas
Lector in Catalan

Sílvia Xicola holds a BA in Translation and Interpreting (English/Catalan/French/Spanish) specialising in legal translation (Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona). She has been an official sworn translator for the Spanish Government since 2000. PG in Teaching Catalan to Adults, she has worked as a language teacher, proofreader and translator for the last 10 years for the Catalan Government,  Barcelona City Council, Catalan Television and the Open University of Catalonia. She specialises in teaching writing and oral skills both in Catalan and Spanish. Sílvia also studied Illustration and Fine Arts in Barcelona and has participated in group and solo exhibitions. Areas of interest: sociolinguistics, especially language attitudes/ideologies and 'verbal hygiene'; critical discourse analysis; language and media; women's studies; empowerment through social movements.

Ms Laura Blanco de la Barrera
Lector in Galician

Ms Laura Blanco de la BarreraLaura Blanco de la Barrera’s research focuses on Galician literary historiography, literary canon and processes of identity formation. She is currently completing her D.Phil. Thesis (Santiago de Compostela) about the processes of national discourse building through Galician Literary History configuration from the 19th century, especially the evolution of ideas-building about the Galician 18th century cultural field throughout Literary Historiography. In addition, she is also interested in literary translation. At the same time, she is a Psychology student (UNED), so other areas of her interest are: Clinical and Social Psychology, Psychoanalysis Discourse and Language Acquisition.

Research students (working on, or with strong interests in, Romance lingustics)

Béatrice Rea
PhD student
I am interested in sociolinguistics, language variation and change, morphosyntax, and anything that has to do with Gallo-Romance dialects. My DPhil research focuses on Laurentian French, as it is spoken in the city of Montréal. My project examines a morphosyntactic feature that can be found in this variety: the alternation of the auxiliary verb être BE with avoir HAVE in contexts that conventionally require the exclusive use of être (ex. Je suis tombé vs J’ai tombé ‘I fell/have fallen’' and Je me suis fait mal vs Je m’ai fait mal 'I hurt/have hurt myself'). The main goal of my doctoral fieldwork is to analyse the direction of this potential linguistic change by understanding how social and linguistic factors influence this levelling phenomenon.

Xavièr Bach
Laming Junior Fellow in Linguistics, Queen's College
PhD student

My main area of work are in theoretical morphology, syntax and historical linguistics. My D.Phil thesis investigates the diachrony of inflectional classes centred on languages from New Guinea. Within Romance languages, I mostly investigate Gallo-Romance varieties, in particular Occitan. I have worked on nominal morphology (the number system of Languedocian Occitan; lexicalisation of inflected forms in French and Occitan; morphology and semantics of augmentatives in Occitan), and in verbal morphology (the morphology of infinitives, and on a theoretical investigation of French conjugation errors, all joint work with Dr Louise Esher, CNRS, Toulouse). For the past few years, I have worked with Dr Benjamin Fagard (CNRS, Paris) on the semantics of categories in Romance languages, in particular on colour terms and spatial relators in diachrony. Finally, I retain important to editing new texts and sources, in particular from underinvestigated registers: early evidence of verlan like slangs in France, medieval letters in Occitan, and, together with Pierre-Joan Bernard (Archives municipales de Montpellier) early modern songs in Occitan.

Roisin Huggins
MPhil student

I have interests in historical and comparative Romance linguistics, syntax, and pragmatics, particularly the role of pragmatics in grammaticalization. I am currently writing my MPhil thesis on the syntax of non-canonical negation across several Romance languages.

Brittany Hause
MPhil student

Brittany HauseMy research centers on synchronic analyses of nonstandard varieties of Spanish and of Italian languages; I'm currently preparing a thesis on the use of augmentatives and diminutives in a variety of Spanish spoken in eastern Bolivia.

Retired Members

Dr Stephen Parkinson
Associate Professor in Portuguese Linguistics

Dr Paloma Garcia-Bellido
Associate Professor in Spanish Linguistics