Linguistics Research

The Faculty aims to be at the forefront of linguistics research across a range of subdisciplines, and is highly successful in gaining research funding from national and international funding bodies. This page provides an overview of some of the current and recent research in the Faculty, subdivided according to subject area.

Phonetics and Phonology


Syntax and Morphology 



Philology and Historical Linguistics

Historical Pragmatics

Romance Linguistics

Germanic Linguistics

Celtic Linguistics

Slavonic Linguistics

Language Documentation and Description

Corpus Linguistics 

Other Linguistics research at Oxford


Phonetics & Phonology

Phonetics Lab

The Phonetics Laboratory was established as an independent department of the University in 1980, and in 2008 became a constituent part of the Faculty of Linguistics, Philology, and Phonetics. The Phonetics Research Group at Oxford is engaged in a wide range of research themes related to speech and language, including speech synthesis, computational phonology, the neurology of speech production, vocal tract imaging and the analysis and modelling of intonation in English. See the Phonetics Lab website for more information.

Language & Brain Lab

Much of the Faculty’s research on phonology has a psycholinguistic angle and takes place within the Language & Brain Laboratory. See below under ‘Psycholinguistics/Neurolinguistics’ and for more information see the Language & Brain Lab website.


Dr Mary Baltazani currently is a co-investigator in the John Fell Fund project ‘Mapping prosodic convergence in Cyprus: a geo-historical acoustic investigation of the effects of insularity at a linguistic crossroads’, which investigates how geographical and temporal factors influence the sharing of prosody across typologically diverse languages spoken within a specific area, namely Cyprus. She led the ESRC funded project ‘Greek in Contact’, which examined the impact of long-term language contact on the intonational patterns of Greek varieties, whose speakers lived and interacted with Turkish and Italian speaking populations. Dr Baltazani was also a co-investigator on a BA funded project ‘Components of Intonation and the Structure of Intonational Meaning’, examining the longstanding debate on the compositionality of intonational meaning. 

Breton Morphophonology

Dr Holly Kennard’s research interests lie in Breton phonology and morphophonology, and how this is being affected by the current revitalisation of the language. Her work has focused on initial consonant mutation, word stress and grammatical gender, and she was PI on the British Academy funded project: Metrical structure, gender and mutation: two generations of Breton speakers under influence from French. Most recently, she has received a grant from the University’s John Fell Fund to begin a new project on intonation in Breton. More generally, Dr Kennard is interested in the morphological and phonological adaptation of loanwords, and language endangerment and revitalisation.

Word Prosody and Intonation – Phonetics and Phonology  

Dr Jose Elias-Ulloa is interested in the study of prosodic structure (moraic content, syllable weight, metrical feet, and stress). He has published several articles on contextually variable-syllable weight, prosodically governed allomorphy, and metrically conditioned-phonological processes. He also conducts intonational studies in the context of language contact. His interest in this area is the investigation of the phonetic and phonological properties of the intonational systems that are involved in the contact of Latin American Spanish (particularly, Peruvian Spanish) and Amazonian languages (mainly, Pano languages). These studies comprise the analysis of the indigenous languages, the analysis of the regional monolingual Spanish with which the indigenous language is in contact, and the intonational analysis of the bilingual Spanish that emerges from that contact. Within the theoretical framework of Autosegmental-Metrical Theory of Intonational Phonology, Dr Elias-Ulloa’s research questions revolve around issues related to the transfer of intonational properties from one system to the other, the direction of that transfer, and the emergence of both unmarked and hybrid intonational patterns in the languages in contact. A list of recent publications can be found here


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Psycholinguistics & Neurolinguistics

Language & Brain Lab

The Language & Brain Laboratory was established in 2008 as part of the Faculty of Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics. It is an active research laboratory covering all aspects of linguistics, including phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics. Research members in this laboratory are engaged in theoretical as well as experimental research covering psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic methodology. See the Language & Brain Lab website for more information.


The current major project in the Language & Brain Lab is Pertinacity, which has been awarded to Professor Aditi Lahiri by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The project, which began on October 1st, 2022, investigates the principle of ‘Pertinacity’ – or persistence – in language.  

Centuries of linguistic research have stated that phonological change is inescapable. Some have claimed syntax to be inert, changing only due to phonological or semantic change. This project takes an unusual and challenging view that phonology is pertinacious and changes in existing phonological systems are governed by two principles of Pertinacity: 

  • Either a particular phonological pattern persists but is extended to apply to new forms and different outputs emerge: [A] same pattern, different outputs 

  • Or output forms look alike, but the underlying phonological system alters due to changes elsewhere in the grammar: [B] different pattern, same outputs 

The Pertinacity project will allow us to set out our expectations, and better understand the reasons behind the whys and why nots of phonological change. Classical historical research will be combined with psycho- and neurolinguistic experimentation and computational speech recognition to explore the central issues of linguistic change and stability, diversity and uniformity. The Pertinacity team is currently conducting fieldwork in India on how similar underlying patterns with differential outputs govern phonological processing in related languages. 

Read more here.

Journey of Words: From manuscript to mind

The vocabulary of any language comes from different sources as words are often borrowed from one language into another, especially in situations of language contact. English, for example, shares many words with French because a large number of French and Latin (Romance) borrowings entered the English language, particularly after the Norman Conquest in 1066.  

Other languages, for example Dutch and German, have also borrowed a considerable number of Romance words. When a word is borrowed, its pronunciation is adapted to fit the sound system of the new language (e.g. ‘beef’ from Old French ‘boef’). Therefore, there are many cases where the same word is borrowed into different languages but is pronounced differently because the languages’ sound systems differ.  

In this project, we are investigating the stress patterns of Romance loanwords in Dutch, English, and German. Some of these words are pronounced in the same way in all three languages (e.g. vendétta) while others show certain differences particularly in vowel quality and stress (e.g. horízon (E), hórizon (D), Horizónt (G)). 

The project consists of two distinct research strands:  

  1. A historical theoretical study in order to create a timeline of borrowings as well as a synchronic description of patterns of phonological adaptation into the three host languages. 

  1. A psycholinguistic investigation concerned with the processing of words which differ in their stress patterns across the languages in Dutch and German second-language (L2) learners of English. 

 For further detailed information, please explore our JoW project website

Complexity in Derivational Morphology: Theory and experimental evidence 

In collaboration with the University of Konstanz (Co-PIs Professor Aditi Lahiri and Professor Dr Carsten Eulitz), this grant which is jointly funded by the UKRI Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation; DFG) runs from 2020 to 2024 and investigates the processing of complex derived words in English and German, focusing in particular on the neural structures underlying morphological processing using EEG and fMRI. Questions asked regarding the processing of derivational complexity include: how do prefixes differ from suffixes both temporally and spatially in the brain, does derivational depth interact with phonological alternations associated with derivation, and what is the role of derivational changes in grammatical gender in processing? In addition to these psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic questions, we also investigate as part of this grant the theory and historical development of derivational systems in English, German, and Dutch. In this latter area we are particularly interested in morphophonological changes in the three languages and differences in borrowing patterns from Romance. 

For further detailed information, please explore our project website.


From October 2016 to September 2021, the Language & Brain Lab’s major project was: MORPHON: Resolving Morpho-Phonological Alternation: Historical, Neurolinguistic, and Computational approaches. The project is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under an Advanced Investigator Award to the PI, Professor Aditi Lahiri. For more information see here.


From October 2011 to September 2016, the Language & Brain Lab’s major project was: WORDS: Asymmetry, change and processing in phonological mental representation. The project was funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under an Advanced Investigator Award to the PI, Professor Aditi Lahiri. The five-year project combined approaches from historical linguistics, psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, phonology and computational modelling to examine the abstract representation of words.

Sentence Processing Laboratory 

Professor Matt Husband undertakes research into the syntax-semantics interface and language processing. His lab focuses on predictive mechanisms and memory architectures in sentence processing, addressing questions about the real-time processing of grammatically-determined aspects of sentence interpretation. Prof Husband’s research makes use of behavioral and neurophysiological techniques, including eye movements and electroencephalography. 


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Syntax and Morphology

Lexical Functional Grammar

Much research on syntax in the Faculty is within the framework of Lexical Functional Grammar, a constraint-based linguistic theory which represents different aspects of the structure of an utterance as separate but related grammatical modules. Professor Mary Dalrymple, Dr Louise Mycock, and Dr John Lowe recently authored The Oxford Reference Guide to Lexical Functional Grammar, published by Oxford University Press in 2019.

The Uncovering Sanskrit Syntax project ran from January 2019 to December 2021, funded by a Leverhulme Trust grant to the PI, Dr John Lowe. The PI and two research associates used corpus data to establish a coherent picture of the interclausal syntax of Sanskrit, an ancient language of India.


The Faculty has a wealth of expertise in minimalist syntax.

Professor David Willis works on minimalist approaches to syntactic variation and change, as well as the synchrony of negation and wh-dependencies.

Professor Sam Wolfe investigates syntactic typology and change using the Minimalist framework, with a particular interest in the Cartographic Enterprise. He recently co-edited Rethinking Verb Second (2020; OUP) and is now editing a major work on Cartography entitled Mapping Syntax.

Dr Kerstin Hoge undertakes research primarily in the syntax and morphosyntax of German and Yiddish.

Dr Víctor Acedo-Matellán’s research centres on the morphosyntax of argument and event structure (resultative constructions, the expression of inner aspect), and the syntax-morphology interface (the syntax of roots, the architecture of extended projections, allomorphy and allosemy), from the perspective of minimalist approaches like Distributed Morphology and Spanning Theory.

Dr Danfeng Wu studies the syntax and semantics of focus and ellipsis in coordination using a minimalist approach, and works with Dr Jose Elias-Ulloa to uncover their prosodic properties in English and Spanish.

Growing out of his research on the compositional aspects of events and states, Professor Matt Husband has been examining the composition of generic interpretations from a neo-constructionist perspective. This research examines the morphosyntactic units that underlie reference to kinds/subkinds and generalizations over individuals and events, identifying the compositional primitives we use to go beyond our particular experiences and express our knowledge, beliefts, steretypes and prejudices about the nature of our world.

Dr Krishnan Ram-Prasad works on syntactic change and reconstruction, with a particular focus on relative clauses, clitics and the left periphery. He is a currently a co-convener of the Oxford Historical Syntax Seminar.

Formal properties of grammars

Dr Diego Krovochen’s work analyses the formal properties of syntactic theories (do they assume derivations or constraints? Are structures formalised using sets, strings, or graphs? How are the building blocks of syntax defined and how do they interact?), and the way in which these properties impact the empirical adequacy of grammatical analyses expressible in those theories. He works on the interaction between formal language theory and natural language syntax under the assumption that syntactic structures in natural language are not computationally uniform (‘mixed computation’), in particular from the perspective of Tree Adjoining Grammars and Transformational Grammar. Papers can be found here.


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Formal semantics and pragmatics

Dr Daniel Altshuler is a formal semanticist whose research engages with the interface between semantics and pragmatics. His research aims to understand context dependence, particularly how semantic composition interacts with discourse structure and discourse coherence. Dr Altshuler’s forthcoming, co-authored book, Discourse interpretation: A formal theory of coherence relations (Oxford University Press), will show how well-known phenomena at the semantics-pragmatics interface are best analysed using tools from discourse coherence theory. 

Dr Altshuler research also explores how literary discourse motivates extensions of dynamic-semantic frameworks, looking particular at imaginative resistance, narrative garden-path and other forms of ‘narrative frustration’. Dr Altshuler’s forthcoming, co-authored book, Literature as a formal language (Routledge), will provide an analysis of narrative garden path in Sylvie, a masterpiece of 19th Century French Literature by Gérard de Nerval. 

Glue Semantics

Together with Dr John Lamping of Google and Dr Vijay Saraswat of IBM TJ Watson Research Lab, Professor Mary Dalrymple is one of the architects of Glue Semantics, a theory of the syntax-semantics interface. It is compatible with various syntactic frameworks, though most work within the glue framework has been conducted within Lexical Functional Grammar. Professor Dalrymple, Dr Louise Mycock, and Dr John Lowe’s handbook The Oxford Reference Guide to Lexical Functional Grammar provides an introduction to glue, and glue analyses for many of the syntactic constructions discussed in the work.

Semantics and psycholinguistics

Professor Matt Husband, Associate Professor of Psycholinguistics, undertakes psycholinguistics research into semantics and the syntax-semantics interface, with recent projects on quantifier restrictions and illusory NPI licensing, the role of focus alternatives, and the processing of scalar implicatures (see above). Professor Husband and Dr Altshuler are jointly investigating coherence phenomena in real-time processing. 


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Professor Deborah Cameron is a sociolinguist and discourse analyst with two main areas of interest: (1) language ideologies/ verbal hygiene, and (2) language and gender studies.

Professor David Willis’s research interests include syntactic variation incorporating theoretical and geospatial perspectives. His recent project attempts to map morposyntactic variation among Twitter users in English, Welsh and other languages.

Dr Ros Temple’s research interests lie in the areas of phonetics/phonology and variationist linguistics and the interface between the two, particularly the implications of variability in fine phonetic detail for both phonetic/phonological and variationist theory. She has worked on these topics with reference particularly to French, English and Welsh.


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Philology & Historical Linguistics

The Faculty has particular strengths in Classical and Indo-European Philology. For more information see the Philology page.

Ancient Greek

Professor Andreas Willi has particular research interests in the historical and comparative grammar of Ancient Greek, including its Indo-European background, as well as the registers and dialects of Greek literary and non-literary texts. He has published on various aspects of the interface between language and society in antiquity, on the history of the Greek alphabet, on the early stages of ancient grammatical thought, and on the etymology of Greek, Latin, and other Indo-European languages. More recently, a further focus of his work has been the history of ancient scholarship on Greek comedy in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. 

Professor Philomen Probert is interested in ancient Greek, Latin, Anatolian and Indo-European linguistics, and in the Graeco-Roman grammatical tradition. She has written on the prehistory of the Greek accentuation system, its contribution to historical linguistics and phonological theory, its description in ancient grammatical texts (and the impact of these descriptions on the Latin grammatical tradition), and on relative clauses in Anatolian and early Greek. 

Dr Alessandro Vatri has worked primarily on the stylistics, pragmatics, and cognition of Ancient Greek. His research focuses on the use of Greek as a medium of communication in Antiquity, with a particular interest in ancient critical and rhetorical literature as a source of primary evidence for its native perception. He has published on several aspects of ancient language comprehension, including the psychoacoustics of prose rhythm, on discourse marking, on ancient stylistics, and on the pragmatics of Greek oratory and literary criticism. He is also the curator of the Diorisis Ancient Greek Corpus and has a strong interest in computational and quantitative research methods. 

Dr Michele Bianconi has worked extensively on language contact between Greek and the Anatolian languages and is currently producing the first monograph on the topic (Oxford University Press). He is also interested in Greek verbal morphosyntax, language contact between Hebrew, Greek, and Latin in Biblical texts, and Greek dialects, in particular Mycenaean Greek. 


Professor Wolfgang de Melo has published on early Latin, especially Plautus, and Varro. His first book, The Early Latin Verb System, came out with OUP in 2007. He then went on to edit and translate Plautus for the Loeb Classical Library (5 vols., HUP, 2011-13). His interest in Roman grammarians is reflected in his work on Varro; his Varro’s De lingua Latina appeared in 2019 (2 vols., OUP). In 2022, he wrote Latin Linguistics, an introduction to linguistics for students of Latin (De Gruyter, 2023 or 2024). From September 2023, he will be on research leave for three years, thanks to a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship; during this time, he will be working on a syntax of Plautus and Terence, and he will only be able to take on doctoral students within that area of study.

Dr Víctor Acedo-Matellán’s research on Latin covers the morphosyntactic expression of events of transition in Early and Classical Latin, focusing on the role of prefixes, and the morphosyntax and semantics of spatial datives. 


Dr John Lowe researches the syntax and semantics of ancient Indo-Iranian languages, in particular Sanskrit, Avestan and Prakrit. He is currently PI of the project ‘LINGUINDIC’.

Dr Krishnan Ram-Prasad studies the syntax of Sanskrit alongside other ancient Indo-European languages including Latin, Ancient Greek and Hittite. His comparative research works towards the syntactic reconstruction of Proto-Indo-European, as well as studying syntactic change within the different branches of the language family.


In addition to his work on the linguistic relationships between Anatolian and Greek (see above), Dr Michele Bianconi is interested in all aspects of Hittite of and the less-attested Anatolian languages (Luwian, Lycian, Lydian, Carian), on Anatolian and Indo-European etymologies, on cultural contact between Anatolian and Archaic Greece, and on the role of Anatolian in Indo-European cultural reconstruction. He is also investigating language shift and “language death” in the Anatolian peninsula in the late 1st millennium BCE and in the first centuries CE. 

Historical Linguistics

Many members of the Faculty have research interests in historical linguistics, including Professor Aditi Lahiri, Professor David Willis, Professor Sam Wolfe, Dr Víctor Acedo-Matellán, Dr Richard AshdowneDr Hanne EckhoffDr Howard Jones, Dr Sandra Paoli, and Dr Johanneke Sytsema. Professor Willis is currently undertaking an AHRC–DFG project on the history of pronominal subjects in the Celtic, Germanic and Slavonic languages of northern Europe.


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Historical Pragmatics

A recent addition to the Faculty’s teaching and research, Historical Pragmatics investigates diachronic language change through the lens of its usage, focusing on the dyad speaker-hearer and invited inferences. Dr Sandra Paoli’s research focuses on looking for reasons motivating language change in the way the meaning of a certain construction is negotiated between discourse participants. Her recent projects include negation in early Occitan, the development of affirmative particles from manner adverbs and pragmatic markers in Mauritian Creole (with Dr Hannah Davidson).


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Romance Linguistics

Several members of the faculty undertake research on Romance linguistics, including Professor Martin Maiden, Dr Sandra Paoli, Professor Sam Wolfe, Dr Víctor Acedo-Matellán, Dr Hannah DavidsonDr Jose Elias-Ulloa, and Dr Marc Olivier.

Professor Martin Maiden has published widely on Romance linguistics and morphology. Together with Adam Ledgeway (Cambridge), Professor Maiden is currently editing The Oxford Handbook of the Italian Language, to be published by Oxford University Press. Recent publications include The Cambridge Handbook of Romance Linguistics (co-edited with Adam Ledgeway; Cambridge University Press), and The Oxford History of Romanian Morphology (in collaboration with Gabriela Pană Dindelegan, Adina Dragomirescu, Rodica Zafiu, and Oana Uță Bărbulescu; Oxford University Press).

Professor Sam Wolfe has worked extensively on the historical syntax of various Romance varieties, with particular interests in Gallo-Romance and Italo-Romance. His most recent monograph, Syntactic Change in French (OUP; 2021), offers the most exhaustive formal account to date of the evolution of French syntax, and his previous monograph Verb Second in Medieval Romance (OUP; 2018) offered a unified account of the evolution of the controversial Verb Second property in six different Romance varieties. He is currently collaborating with colleagues at the University of Padua on writing a grammar of Old Venetan and received funding from the John Fell Fund for the project A Comparative Perspective on the Languages of the Veneto.  

With the support of both external (British Academy) and internal (John Fell Fund, Balliol College Research Allowance) funds, Dr Sandra Paoli has been working on the development of negation in Occitan, the go-past construction in Occitan and on pragmatic markers in Mauritian Creole. More information can be found on her webpage

Dr Hannah Davidson works on Mauritian Creole, both diachronically and synchronically. Following a John-Fell funded project on pragmatic markers with Dr Sandra Paoli, she is now investigating linguistic attitudes towards the languages of Mauritius.

Dr Jose Elias-Ulloa works on the phonetics and phonology of Latin American Spanish, particularly on the varieties spoken in Peru. He is mainly interested in the study of their prosody, and how it influences the realization of vowels and consonants. He is currently investigating micro-dialectal variations in the gradience and categorical inhibition of spirantisation of the voiced stops /b, d, g/ as they occur in different prosodic positions.

Dr Marc Olivier works at the intersection of formal syntax and historical linguistics. His research focuses on medieval Romance languages, Old French and Old Occitan in particular, and his publications on clitic placement and the structure of infinitival clauses and restructuring are recognised as an important contribution to the field.

Completed Projects

Recently completed projects in Romance linguistics include: Autonomous Morphology in Diachrony: comparative evidence from Romance languagesThe Romance noun: a comparative-historical study of plural formation, and ISTROX: the Istro-Romanian Language and the Oxford University Hurren Donation.


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Germanic Linguistics

Early Germanic Languages

Dr Howard Jones works primarily on the early Germanic languages. His recent work includes papers on the passive in Old English, on grammatical mood in the Old English Bede, and on lexical choice in Luther’s Bible translations. Current projects include The Oxford Guide to Old High German and Old Saxon (with Luise Morawetz and William Thurlwell) to be published by OUP,  a study of grammatical mood across the early Germanic languages, and a functional account of the perfect in Homer (these last with Morgan Macleod).

Middle Dutch

Our knowledge of the linguistic systems of early Germanic comes from manuscripts. For Middle Dutch, quite a few literary manuscripts have been handed down and most of them were made available in excellent diplomatic editions, especially in the series Middeleeuwse verzamelhandschriften uit de Nederlanden. One major manuscript, not represented in this series, has recently been edited diplomatically for the first time. This is Ms.Marshall 29 located in the Bodleian Library in Oxford and dating back to around 1375. The online edition is now available from the project website. The project was undertaken by Professor Aditi Lahiri (PI) and Dr Johanneke Sytsema, funded by the AHRC (grant AH/I003754/1).

German and Yiddish syntax

Dr Kerstin Hoge’s research interests are in the field of German and Yiddish linguistics, with particular focus on syntactic theory and the study of wh-movement and small-clause constructions. Further ongoing research interests are Yiddish children’s writing and the question as to how language is used in the construction of social and personal identity.


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Celtic Linguistics

Professor David Willis works on morphosyntactic variation and change using corpora of Celtic languages, especially Welsh and Breton. As part of his research project ‘The history of pronominal subjects in the languages of northern Europe’, he is collaborating with researchers at Humboldt University Berlin to compare patterns of change in subject pronouns in Celtic and Slavonic languages and in the history of English. Dr Mark Darling, researcher on that project, has research interests in early Celtic verbal morphology and Irish-language corpora.


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Slavonic Linguistics

Dr Hanne Eckhoff is a historical corpus linguist who has worked extensively on building diachronic text corpora (treebanks) for early East and South Slavonic, including Old Church Slavonic and Middle Russian, within a wider initiative to build such resources for early attestations of the major Indo-European branches. Her research centres on the history of verbal aspect, case and definiteness marking in East and South Slavonic, with an emphasis on comparison of Old Church Slavonic with Greek. She also works on methodological and computational topics related to corpus building. 

Dr Jan Fellerer researches the history of Polish, Czech and Ukrainian with special reference to the modern period from the late 18th century to the present day. His areas of interest in Slavonic linguistics include topics in lexical semantics and syntax, especially word order, argument structure, and argument realization. He also works on language contact, urban dialects, and multilingualism in historical L’viv and Łódź. Dr Fellerer is currently editing, together with Prof Neil Bermel, the volume on the Slavonic Languages for the Oxford University Press series Guides to the World’s Languages.

Dr Mary MacRobert (emerita) works on the delimitation and interaction of various Slavonic vernaculars and the medieval literary language, Church Slavonic.  Her research ranges from the origins of Old Church Slavonic and evidence for prosodic and morphosyntactic developments (e.g. in clitic use, word division, tense distinctions, mood and verbal aspect), to medieval translation technique, the principles and practice of textual criticism in application to Church Slavonic material, the palaeography of Cyrillic and Glagolitic manuscripts, and Church Slavonic hymnographical traditions.


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Language Documentation and Description

Several members of the faculty undertake research to document and describe endangered languages, including Professor Mary Dalrymple, Professor Miriam Meyerhoff, Dr Sarah Ogilvie, Dr Holly Kennard, Dr Gede Primahadi Wijaya Rajeg, Dr Charlotte Hemmings, and Dr Jose Elias-Ulloa.


Professor Mary Dalrymple is currently leading two projects to document and describe the Enggano language, spoken off the south coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.  

The AHRC funded project ‘Enggano in the Austronesian family: Historical and typological perspectives’ (with Dr Charlotte Hemmings) seeks to document Enggano via the collection and archiving of a corpus of audio and video recordings with rich metadata. Using the corpus, the project aims to produce a descriptive grammar of the language and assess the typological and historical position of Enggano within the Austronesian family, which has long remained puzzling to linguists.  

The follow-on AHRC funded project, ‘Lexical resources for Enggano, a threatened language of Indonesia’ (with Dr Sarah Ogilvie and Dr Gede Primahadi Wijaya Rajeg) will involve in-depth research into historical and contemporary lexical resources on Enggano. The project will result in a lexical database that unifies all the available materials, as well as a learner’s dictionary and mobile phone app for Enggano.  

More information on both projects, as well as links to language resources, can be found on the project website

Northern Sarawak

Between 2016-2019, Dr Charlotte Hemmings led the research project ‘Information Structure in the languages of Northern Sarawak’ which was funded by an Early Career Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust. The project involved documentation and description of the Kelabit, Sa’ban and Lun Bawang languages of Northern Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo. It also explored the role of information structure in determining syntactic choices in the three languages, such as the choice of voice, word order and case-marking patterns. Dr Hemmings is writing a monograph based on the findings of this project. 

Audio and video materials collected during the project are archived with the Endangered Languages Archive (ELAR): KelabitSa’ban and Lun Bawang. A selection of folk stories and descriptions of cultural practices are available as subtitled videos on the project website

Nkep and Bislama

Professor Miriam Meyerhoff is a sociolinguist, specialising in studies of variation and change in naturally occurring speech. Since 2011, she has been working with members of the community of Hog Harbour (Vüthiev) in Northeast Santo, Vanuatu on the documentation of their language Nkep. This has involved looking at synchronic variation in order to try and shed light on the typological distinctiveness of Nkep, as well as the production of materials for community use – an oral history video, books for early readers, a trilingual wordfinder list (Nkep-Bislama-English). Miriam mainly works on nouns and pronouns, with forays into the VP to consider subject-verb agreement. 

Bislama (the national language of Vanuatu) has been central to Miriam’s linguistics research for nearly 30 years. She’s written quite a lot about variation in pronoun/NP absence in Bislama, and is currently working with Carol Aru (National Cultural Centre, Vanuatu), Manfred Krifka and Tonjes Veenstra (Leibniz Zentrum Allegemeine Sprachwissenschaft, Berlin) on a new set of variables (more NPs, some grammaticalisation in the VP) in a corpus of spoken Bislama that the project team have been collecting since early 2020. 

Phonetic and Phonological Documentation of Amerindian Languages

Dr Jose Elias-Ulloa combines his expertise in phonetics and phonology to document indigenous languages spoken in the Americas. He has conducted fieldwork in the Amazonian region of Peru and has extensively published articles documenting different aspects of the phonology and phonetics of languages like Shipibo-Konibo, Capanahua, Urarina, Quechua, Arabela, Boruca, etc. In 2011, he published the first acoustic documentation of a Peruvian Amazonian language, Shipibo-Konibo. Dr Elias-Ulloa is currently working on two documentation projects:

  1. The documentation of the intonational system of Shipibo-Konibo. This project seeks to identify the main pitch accents and boundary tones in Shipibo-Konibo (Pano) as well as their distribution in different syntactic and information structures. 

  2. The tonal patterns of Urarina. The Urarina language is an OVS language isolate in which nouns belong to different tonal paradigms. In isolation and as subjects of sentences, nouns surface with a high tone on their final syllable; however, when they occur as direct objects of a verb, their tones occur on the adjacent verb. Similar phenomena are observed in other syntactic Complement-Head configurations. The main goal of this project is to document and analyse the phonetic and phonological aspects of that phenomenon and its dialectal variations. 

Mapping Endangered Languages and Dictionaries

Dr Sarah Ogilvie is currently leading a digital project on Mapping Endangered languages and Dictionaries drawing on her previous experience with endangered languages in Australia (Morrobalama) and North America (Mutsun). She co-edited the book is Keeping Languages Alive: Documentation, Pedagogy, and Revitalization with Mari Jones.


Dr. Daniel Altshuler has documented the phonetic and phonological properties of stress and tone in Osage, a Siouan language spoken by the Osage people of Oklahoma. A remarkable property of this language is that is features quantity sensitive iambs, which have been thought to be impossible. In the near future, Dr. Altshuler plans on investigating the Osage script, which was developed in 2006 and revised more recently, as parts of the efforts to revitalize the language.


Dr Holly Kennard’s research focuses on Breton, an endangered language spoken in Brittany. She held a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship from January 2016 to December 2018 during which she led the project ‘Metrical structure, gender and mutation: two generations of Breton speakers under influence from French’. This project investigated the morphophonology of Breton in both traditional, older speakers and younger ‘new’ speakers, that is, speakers who have acquired the language by means other than intergenerational transmission. As well as adding to the documentation of the traditional dialects of southwest Brittany, the project explored the extent to which new speakers’ Breton differs from traditional varieties, and in what ways younger speakers ‘sound different’ from older speakers. She is now starting a new pilot project, ‘Intonation in Breton’, supported by the John Fell Fund, to begin an analysis of intonational patterns in Breton.


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Corpus Linguistics

Martin Wynne is Senior Researcher in Corpus Linguistics and Principal Investigator on the AHRC-funded Infrastructure for Digital Arts and Humanities project, which is building a national repository service for digital literary and linguistic resources. The Literary and Linguistic Data Service is the new home for the Oxford Text Archive collections, and builds on more than 40 years of experience in curating digital language resources at the University of Oxford. The repository is also a node in the CLARIN European Research Infrastructure Consortium, and Martin is the National Coordinator for CLARIN-UK.

The Phonetics Laboratory is also home to a number of digital audio resources, and conducts research on large-scale corpora of spoken language, including BNC Audio (

Hanne Eckhoff is a historical corpus linguist who is building diachronic text corpora (treebanks) for Russian and Church Slavonic, within a wider initiative to build such resources for early attestations of the major Indo-European branches, and also publishes on methodological and computational topics related to my practical corpus building work.



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Other Linguistics Research at Oxford

Linguistics research is undertaken in a number of other Departments at Oxford, often in collaboration with members of our Faculty. Please see the relevant departmental websites for further information:

Applied linguistics (Department of Education).

Computational linguistics (Computing Laboratory).

Middle Eastern and Asian languages (Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies).

Modern European languages (Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages).

Old English and other old Germanic languages (Faculty of English Language & Literature).

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