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Sandra Paoli

Associate Professor in Linguistics (Romance Languages)
Senior Research Fellow of Balliol College

My research interests range from a number of phenomena in specific Romance varieties to specific phenomena (e.g. grammaticalization, modal particles, sentential negation, pronominal forms, pragmatics-syntax interface – especially contrastive and mirative focus, particles and discourse, acquisition of functional categories) across Romance varieties. In my research I combine detailed synchronic investigation of a phenomenon with its diachronic development. I am especially interested in the notions (and their effects) of gradience and gradualness in the context of grammaticalization, and the role played by discourse and the cognitive-pragmatic dimension in language change.

My original training was in transformational (GB) Syntax, and I still have an interest in the Cartographic approach to mapping syntactic positions. My more recent work has moved in the direction of Historical Pragmatics, and has focused on the development and spread of post-verbal negative markers in Occitan and the use of discourse particles. Within grammaticalization in a more narrow sense, I have worked on the diachronic trajectory of acquisition and loss of pronouns, the development and spread of forms of the verb ‘have’ in Italo-Romance and the development of the ‘GO-past’ and ‘GO-future’ forms in early Occitan (click here for further details).

I welcome applications from prospective doctoral students interested in working on comparative (especially from the dialectological perspective) synchronic and diachronic pragmatic and morpho-syntactic aspects of Romance varieties, especially interested in the role of dialogic contexts, metonymy, polyphony and discourse more in general in language change.

I teach Comparative Romance both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, Structure of Italian, Prelims Grammatical Analysis, part of the Prelims General Linguistics course and a new graduate course in Historical Pragmatics (focusing on Romance). I also run the weekly seminar Discussing Romance, a discussion group on all things (but mainly morpho-syntactic and pragmatic!) Romance. Current and past programmes can be found on Canvas, under Discussing Romance.