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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). He has recently published The Romance Verb. Morphomic Structure and Diachrony (OUP 2018), and is currently working (jointly, with four Romanian colleagues) on The Oxford History of Romanian Morphology (OUP).

Dr Sandra Paoli
Deputy Director
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 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. In her research she favours the combination of a detailed synchronic investigation of a phenomenon and its diachronic development. 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, the development and spread of forms of the verb ‘to have’, discourse particles and the development of post-verbal negative markers. More.

Mr JC Smith (Retired)
Deputy Director Emeritus
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 Víctor Acedo-Matellán
Associate Professor in Spanish and Portuguese Linguistics
Fellow of Oriel College

A theoretical linguist, I have specialized in the grammatical realization of argument and event structure and the syntax-lexicon and syntax-morphology interfaces. My overarching interest is the architecture of grammar, i.e., how the different grammatical modules interact, from a generative perspective. In my dissertation, published in 2016 by Oxford University Press, I explored issues in the argument structure of Latin, and compared this language to the Slavic and Germanic languages within the domain of the morphosyntactic expression of transition events. Related research interests include the cross-linguistic typology of the expression of motion events, the syntax of roots, the grammatical representation of inner aspect, the structure of adpositions and prefixes, and the diachrony of argument structure from Latin into Romance and within the history of Catalan.

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.

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.

Dr Chiara Cappellaro
Research Fellow in Linguistics

Chiara’s research interests and expertise lie in morphology, sociolinguistics, historical linguistics, Italian and comparative Romance linguistics (Italo- and Ibero-Romance in particular). Further interests include multilingualism and intelligibility across cognate varieties and language documentation. She is currently completing a monograph on Personal Pronouns in Romance which is based on her British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship research at Oxford. She has also been awarded a TORCH Knowledge-Exchange Fellowship for 2017-2018 for a project which proposes to create a permanent museum and a sociolinguistic archive devoted to the language and culture of Bocchigliero (Calabria, Southern Italy; see article published in Cosenza here). Recent publications include: (i) 2017 (forthcoming). ‘The semantic specialization of Esso as [–Human] in Standard Italian’. Revue Romane. 52.2. ​(ii) 2017. ‘Plurality and Gender in a Central Calabrian Dialect: The emergence of an innovative type of Romance Genus Alternans in Bocchiglierese’. Archivio Glottologico Italiano 2/2015. 208-231. 2016. ‘Tonic Pronominal System: morphophonology’ in Ledgeway, A. and Maiden, M. (Eds) Oxford Guide to the Romance Languages. Oxford: OUP.

Dr Alessandro Carlucci
MHRA Research Associate

Alessandro Carlucci is an MHRA Research Associate. His current research sits within the AHRC-funded Creative Multilingualism project, where it forms part of Strand 3: ‘Creating Intelligibility across Languages and Communities’. Dr Carlucci also works on the history of the Italian language, English influences in Italian, Tuscan dialectology and diachronic phonology, and the history of linguistic ideas. His articles have appeared in journals such as the Cahiers Ferdinand de Saussure, the Rivista Italiana di Dialettologia, Zeitschrift für romanische Philologie, Lingua Nostra, the Journal of Romance Studies and Modern Language Review. He has also published widely on the linguistic views that the Italian philosopher and political leader Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) expressed in his writings, and on previously neglected aspects of Gramsci’s life. In particular, he is the author of Gramsci and Languages: Unification, Diversity, Hegemony (Brill, 2013), co-winner of the Giuseppe Sormani International Prize for the best monograph on Antonio Gramsci (4th edition, 2012-2017).

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 Paloma Garcia-Bellido (Retired)
Associate Professor in Spanish Linguistics

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.

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 Stephen Parkinson (Retired)
Associate Professor in Portuguese Linguistics

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

Dr Elinor PayneWithin 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 Alessandra Petrocchi
Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow

Alessandra is currently a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow in the Faculty of Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics at the University of Oxford. She holds a PhD in Classical Sanskrit and South Asian Studies from the University of Cambridge. Dr Petrocchi has published on medieval Indian literature and East/West cross-cultural and literary exchanges; her methodological approach combines the study of primary sources with broad historical and literary analyses. In her last book (Routledge, 2019), Alessandra provides the first English translation and study of two medieval Sanskrit mathematical texts. Dr Petrocchi is currently working on a cross-linguistic, comparative, and multidisciplinary project which aims to trace circulation of scientific knowledge between medieval India, the Mediterranean world, and early Renaissance Italy. This project makes innovative use of interdisciplinary research methodologies to provide evidence of global movements of ideas and texts. Alessandra is also a literary translator, and has published translation from several languages.

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.

Dr Jenelle Thomas
Departmental Lecturer in French Linguistics
Fellow of Christ Church

Jenelle Thomas’s research focuses on the historical sociolinguistics of multilingualism and the interaction of variation and contact in the history of French and Spanish. She has worked on the orthography, morphology, and pragmatic strategies of bilingual letter-writers from Spanish colonial Louisiana and is currently developing a project on discourse and interpretation in the multilingual courtroom.

Dr Oana Uţă Bărbulescu
Lector in Romanian

Oana’s areas of interest include historical linguistics (especially historical morphology and syntax), history and structure of Romance languages (with special focus on Romanian), dialectology (with special focus on trans-Danubian dialects) and translation studies. She is also currently working with Prof. Maiden and three Romanian colleagues on The Oxford History of Romanian Morphology (OUP).

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 Sam Wolfe
Associate Professor in French Linguistics
Fellow of St Catharine’s 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.

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.

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

Zeprina-Jaz (Zeppy) Ainsworth
PhD student

I am currently working on the development of the morphological case system from Latin to the modern Romance languages with particular focus on old Gallo-Romance and modern Romanian. My DPhil compares the loss of inflexional case distinctions in Romance to the maintenance and expansion of the morphological case system of Finnic languages and attempts to offer some potential reasons for these divergent developments.

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.

Hannah Davidson
PhD student

I am studying the development of Mauritian Creole’s tense, mood and aspect (TMA) markers from their first appearance in texts from the 1700’s until the present day. On a descriptive level I aim to track their diachronic evolution and provide a detailed historical account, since an in-depth study of the development of Mauritian’s TMA markers is missing. On a theoretical level, I am interested in whether Mauritian’s TMA system as a whole is on a path towards a more inflectional system, having started out with clearly isolating morphology. Following a recent trend in morphology to consider periphrastic constructions as part of the inflectional paradigm (e.g. Ackerman & Stump, 2004), this has led some linguists to re-think Creole morphology, which has traditionally been considered morphologically poor and completely lacking in inflection (McWhorter, 2001).

Brittany Hause
PhD student

Brittany's MPhil thesis, supervised by Chiara Cappellaro, looked at the function and distribution of evaluative-forming affixes in an eastern Bolivian variety of Spanish. Her current research builds off her findings in this area to examine the morphosyntactic effects of contact with Portuguese and certain languages indigenous to South America on Spanish as it is spoken near the Brazilian border.

Andrew Lloyd
PhD student

My DPhil thesis examines the sociolinguistic, dialectal, and discourse-pragmatic influences on the distribution, grammaticalisation, and obsolescence of units of minimal value in Gallo-Romance dialects during the Middle Ages in France. As both a quantitative and qualitative study, it aims to explain the structured variation we find for these variables across texts of diverse origin, typology, and genre.

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.

Amanda Thomas
PhD student

Amanda’s interests in linguistics include syntax, morphology and typology, with a special focus on the Romance languages. Her DPhil research is on historical developments in Portuguese morphosyntax, particularly the pronominal and verbal systems, implemented in the formal framework of Lexical Functional Grammar (LFG). Previous work on Romance includes an investigation of double past participle forms across Portuguese, Galician, Spanish and Italian; a formal account of the grammatical features of polite pronouns; and a project on null object pronouns in Brazilian Portuguese.