Comparative Philology Graduate Seminar


It is a long-standing tradition dating to at least the 1970s that the philologists—both students and staff—meet every Tuesday in term time for the Comparative Philology Graduate Seminar. Each term, the seminar has a different overarching topic; there are, however, certain trends.

In Michaelmas, the philologists consider a general linguistic topic and its applicability to (largely) ancient Indo-European languages; in the past, these topics included: accent; the reconstructability of syntax; moods; metre; language contact; and many more.

In Hilary Term, the structure and history of a language or language family is dealt with. Contributions come from specialists in the field as well as those who have only recently taken it up. In the past, the languages studied have included: Hieroglyphic Luwian; Old English; Faliscan; Old Irish; Tocharian; and many others.

In Trinity Term, students and staff present their Work in Progress; this usually involves MPhil and DPhil students sharing the findings of their dissertations.

The seminar takes place every Tuesday, 2.15–4pm in the Faculty of Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics (Clarendon Institute, Walton St). For more information and in the case of any queries, please get in touch with the convenors of the seminar as specified in the announcements below.

Current Seminar: Albanian

Date Week Speaker & Title
23 January 2

General Introduction

a) Albanian language and history: An introduction (Michele Bianconi)

b) The subgrouping question: Albanian, Illyrian, Paleo-Balkanic (Robin Meyer)

Text: Lord’s Prayer in Gjon Buzuku’s Missal (1555)

30 January 3

Albanian Phonology

a) Vocalism (Jonathan Walls)

b) Consonantism (Nicholas Romanos)

Text: A dialogue between Enver Hoxha and Khrushchev

6 February 4

Albanian Nominal Morphology

a) Nouns/adjectives (Svetlana Ó Siochfhradha Prešern)

b) Pronouns (Dillon Kelly)

Text: Cinderella (fragment of a folk story)

13 February 5

Albanian Verbal Morphology

a) Pres./impf./aor. indicative: stems and endings (Andreas Willi)

b) Modal and periphrastic forms, infinite forms (Tim Barnes)

Text: Canzona spirituale (prefaced to L. Matrënga’s Catechism (1592))

20 February 6

Albanian Syntax

a) Nominal and verbal syntax (Philomen Probert)

b) Clause syntax (Krishnan Ram-Prasad)

Text: L. Matrënga, Mbsuame e Krështerë (Catechism) (1592), foll. 8-9

27 February 7

Albanian in contact

a) Latin (and Greek) in Albanian (Allison Murphy)

b) Albanian and Slavonic (Atticus Mawby)

Text: L. Matrënga, Mbsuame e Krështerë (1592), foll. 11-12 (Creed)

5 March 8

Guest Lecture

Dr Joachim Matzinger (Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien)

Past Seminars

Year Michaelmas Hilary Trinity
2023–24 The Future in Indo-European Albanian  
2022–23 Alphabetic Writing in the Indo-European World Old High German Work in Progress
2021–22 Periphrasis in Indo-European Hittite Work in Progress
2020–21 Accent and Rhythm Phrygian Work in Progress
2019–20 The Language and Linguistics of Ancient Humour Hieroglyphic Luwian Work in Progress
2018–19 Ancient Grammar and Linguistics Armenian Work in Progress
2017–18 Reconstructing the Syntax of Proto-Indo-European Old English Work in Progress
2016–17 Why languages are similar: contact, drift, inheritance Tocharian Work in Progress
2015–16 Origins of the Greek Verb Old Persian Work in Progress
2014–15 Participles Old Irish Work in Progress
2013–14 Moods Gothic Work in Progress
2012–13 Towards a synchronic Grammar of Proto-Indo-European Faliscan Work in Progress
2011–12 Metre in Indo-European Middle Iranian Work in Progress
2010–11 Indo-European dialects and subgrouping   Work in Progress
2009–10 Definiteness Etruscan Work in Progress
2008–9 Ergativity and Indo-European Lydian Work in Progress
2007–8 Aspect Armenian Work in Progress
2006–7 Approaches to Indo-European myth and religion Tocharian Work in Progress
2005–6 Grammatical gender in Indo-European Lithuanian Work in Progress
2004–5 Relative clauses Celtiberian Work in Progress
2003–4 Indo-European Accentuation: Problems in accentuation Gothic Work in Progress
2002–3 Imperatives Venetic Work in Progress
2001–2 Analogy The Languages of Lycia Work in Progress
2000–1 Reconstruction of Indo-European Phonology   Work in Progress
1999–2000 Writing and Literacy Tocharian Work in Progress
1998–99 Names and Naming in Indo-European Languages Language and History Work in Progress
1997–98 Etymology Old Persian Work in Progress
1996–97 “Particles” in the Indo-European Languages Laryngeals Work in Progress
1995–96 The Infinitive in the Indo-European Languages Middle and Passive in the Indo-European Languages Lycian
1994–95 Prepositions, Postpositions, and Preverbs in the Indo-European Languages Introduction to Avestan Work in Progress
1993–94 Reconstruction of Indo-European Culture: the Bestiary Writing and scripts Greek and non Greek in Asia Minor
1992–93 Lydian Hieroglyphic Luwian Work in Progress
1991–92 The Reconstruction of Indo-European Morphology: Ablaut and Nominal Inflection The Relative Clause in Indo-European and in the Indo-European Languages Work in Progress
1990–91 Archaism and Innovation in the Indo-European Languages Indo-European Reconstruction and Development: the case of the Laryngeals Tocharian


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