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.

Phonology

Psycholinguistics/Neurolinguistics

Syntax

Semantics

Sociolinguistics

Philology and Historical Linguistics

Romance Linguistics

Germanic Linguistics

Slavonic Linguistics

Phonetics

Other

  

Phonology

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.

Phonetics Lab

Research on phonology is also undertaken within the Phonetics Laboratory. See the Phonetics Lab website for more information.

Intonation

Dr Mary Baltazani leads the ESRC funded project ‘Greek in Contact’ , which examines 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 is 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 morphophonology, and how this is being affected by the current revitalisation of the language. Most recently, she has been working on initial consonant mutation, word stress and grammatical gender, as PI on the British Academy funded project: Metrical structure, gender and mutation: two generations of Breton speakers under influence from French. More generally, Dr Kennard is interested in morphological and phonological adaptation of loanwords, and language endangerment and revitalisation.

 

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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.

MORPHON

The current major project in the Language & Brain Lab is 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. The project started in October 2016, and is planned to run until September 2021. For more information see here.

WORDS

From October 2011 to September 2016, the 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.

Syntax-semantics interface

Dr Matt Husband, Associate Professor of Psycholinguistics, undertakes research into the syntax-semantics interface and language processing, addressing questions such as: What is the representation of a sentence meaning? How are sentence meanings composed online?  What network of brain regions supports the composition of sentence meanings? To address these and other related questions, Dr Husband’s research makes use of behavioral and neurophysiological techniques, from grammaticality judgments and eye movements to electroencephalography and functional magnetic resonance imaging.

BabyLab (Department of Experimental Psychology)

See the project website for more information.

 

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Syntax

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 have recently authored The Oxford Reference Guide to Lexical Functional Grammar, to be published by Oxford University Press in 2019.   

Uncovering Sanskrit Syntax

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

Modern European languages

Dr Sandra Paoli, Dr Kerstin Hoge, Dr Sam Wolfe, and Dr Víctor Acedo-Matellán undertake research primarily in the syntax and morphosyntax of modern European languages. Dr Acedo-Matellán’s current work is on the syntax of adjectival resultative constructions in Old Romance (Old Catalan, Old Spanish) and the verbal expression of stage- and individual-level predicates crosslinguistically.

 

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Semantics

Glue Semantics

Together with Dr John Lamping of Google and Dr Vijay Saraswat of IBM TJ Watson Research Lab, Prof 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 Mycock, and Dr Lowe’s forthcoming 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.  Professor Dalrymple and Dr Lowe continue to undertake research in glue semantics.

Semantics and psycholinguistics

Dr Matt Husband, Associate Professor of Psycholinguistics, undertakes psycholinguistics research into semantics and the syntax-semantics interface (see above). Through 2018-2019, Dr John Lowe is running a project ‘Processing Quotation’, investigating the semantics of quoted speech from a theoretical linguistic and psycholinguistic perspective.

 

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Sociolinguistics

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. She is currently a co-investigator on a one-year NIHR-funded research project called QuARC (Qualitative Analysis of Remote Consultations), based in the Department of Primary Care Heath Sciences (PI Dr Sara Shaw: researchers Lukas Seuren, Joe Wherton). The project focuses on medical consultations conducted via Skype or FaceTime, analysing patterns of interaction in a corpus of video-recorded consultations in order to understand the effects of the medium on doctor-patient interaction and produce guidance for clinicians on using it effectively.

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

Following completion of a major research project on the prehistory and early history of the Greek verbal system (Origins of the Greek Verb, 2018), Prof. Andreas Willi is currently pursuing further work on the language of Greek literary texts on the one hand, among other things preparing an edited volume on Formes et fonctions des langues littéraires en Grèce ancienne (2019), and on manifestations of ‘forbidden language’ (taboo, purism, politeness, etc.) in Ancient Greek on the other hand. Additional interests continue to include the historical-comparative grammar and etymology of Greek, Latin, and other ancient Indo-European languages.

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 on relative clauses in Anatolian and early Greek.

Dr Alessandro Vatri’s research looks into the connection between the linguistic form of ancient Greek literary texts and the original communicative circumstances of their reception. He is especially interested in reconstructing the native comprehension of Classical Greek in the specific socio-cultural contexts in which texts were meant to be received. 

Latin

Professor Wolfgang de Melo has worked extensively on Plautus and the language of Roman comedy. He is currently completing a critical edition, translation, and commentary on Varro’s De lingua Latina, the first Latin grammatical treatise of some length. Together with Dr Scott Scullion (Worcester), he is also editing the Oxford Handbook of Greek and Latin Textual Criticism.

Indo-Iranian

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 ‘Uncovering Sanskrit Syntax’ (see above), and is also writing a book on the connections between modern linguistic thought and the ancient Indian (Sanskrit) grammatical tradition.

Armenian

Dr Robin Meyer is currently working on various aspects of Classical, Medieval, and Modern Armenian linguistics, foremost on the publication of his thesis on Iranian-Armenian language contact; other smaller projects include the diachronic development of expressions of futurity in Armenian, complex predicates and post-predicative constituents in Classical Armenian. His new larger project focuses on the development of relative clause syntax in the languages of ancient Italy. Dr Meyer also covers the Armenian side of IMMOCAL (Imperfective Modalities in Caucasian Languages; https://immocal.ifeaistanbul.net/) funded by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR-16-CE27-0006), PI Gilles Authier (EPHE Paris).

Historical Linguistics

Many members of the Faculty have research interests in historical linguistics, including Professor Aditi Lahiri, Dr Sam Wolfe, Dr Víctor Acedo-Matellán, Dr John Lowe, Dr Richard Ashdowne, Dr Howard Jones, Dr Hanne Eckhoff and Dr Johanneke Sytsema.

 

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Romance Linguistics

Several members of the faculty undertake research on Romance linguistics, including Professor Martin Maiden, Dr Sandra Paoli, Dr Sam Wolfe, and Dr Víctor Acedo-Matellán. 

Professor Maiden has published widely on Romance linguistics and morphology. Together with Adam Ledgeway (Cambridge), he is currently editing The Cambridge Handbook of Romance Linguistics, to be published by Cambridge University Press, which will show how Romance data can be used to address major questions in general linguistic theory. In collaboration with Gabriela Pană Dindelegan,  Adina Dragomirescu, Rodica Zafiu, and Oana Uță Bărbulescu, Professor Maiden is also currently writing The Oxford History of Romanian Morphology (Oxford University Press); this work will provide the first ever detailed history of the remarkably complex and theoretically challenging morphological system of the Romanian language.

ISTROX: the Istro-Romanian Language and the Oxford University Hurren Donation

See the project website for more information.

Completed Projects

Recently completed projects in Romance linguistics include: Autonomous Morphology in Diachrony: comparative evidence from Romance languages, and The Romance noun: a comparative-historical study of plural formation.

External projects

Dr Víctor Acedo-Matellán is an external member of a research project funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Enterprise (MINECO): Redes de variación microparamétricas en las lenguas románicas (FFI2017-87140-C4-1-P) [‘Networks of microparametric variation in Romance languages’], PIs Dr Ángel J. Gallego and Dr Jaume Mateu (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), Jan 2018 to Dec 2021.

 

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Germanic Linguistics

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. 

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).

Middle High German

Dr Howard Jones is currently finalizing (with Martin Jones) The Oxford Guide to Middle High German to be published by OUP in April 2019. It will cover the language and literature of the whole Middle High German period, with a two-level (introductory and reference) grammar and a wide selection of fully annotated texts representing all major dialects. Dr Jones is also researching: the semantics of the subjunctive mood in Old English; the semantics of the perfect tense in Homer; and the interplay between theology and lexical choice in Luther’s Bible translations.

 

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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 Russian and Church Slavonic, within a wider initiative to build such resources for early attestations of the major Indo-European branches. Her research centers on the history of verbal aspect and definiteness marking in East and South Slavic, also in comparison with Old Church Slavonic and 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 held a Leverhulme Research Fellowship in 2017 to advance his ongoing work on language contact, urban dialects and multilingualism in L’viv and Łódź. Dr Fellerer is currently also 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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Phonetics

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 webpage for more information.

 

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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 Oriental 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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