Cambridge Endangered Languages and Cultures Group

Founder and Faculty Convenor

Mari Jones (Founder and Faculty Convenor)

Mari JonesMari Jones is Professor of French Linguistics and Language Change and Fellow of Peterhouse. She has published widely on language death, dialectology and language variation and change, including books on Welsh, Breton and the Norman dialects of the Channel Islands (Jèrriais, Guernesiais, Sercquais). Her graduate teaching focuses on language death and revitalisation, language variation and change and dialectology, both within the context of French and other languages. She is currently running an AHRC project on language and social structure in urban France and has major research collaborations with the University of Caen ('Patrimoine Linguistique en Normandie') and with the University of Rennes, where she is a research associate at L'Equipe de Recherche sur la diversité Littéraire et Linguistique du monde Francophone. She is Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales and of the International Centre for Language Revitalisation, and also Visiting Professor in Linguistics at the University of Bamberg and Visiting Fellow at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Graduate Convenors

Luigi (Gigi) Andriani (Graduate Convenor)

Gigi AndrianiGigi is a PhD student in the Department of Italian under the supervision of Prof. Adam Ledgeway, supported by the AHRC and CHESS funds. He has recently submitted his dissertation on the morphosyntax of the dialect of Bari, an understudied upper-southern Italo-Romance variety, focusing in particular on the clausal, nominal and verbal domains. He is currently a part-time lecturer in Italo-Romance Linguistics and Dialectology for the Department of Italian, University of Cambridge. He previously earned a BA degree in Foreign Languages and Literatures (Literary Translation from/to Dutch, Spanish and English) at the University of Rome 'La Sapienza', and an MRes degree in Linguistics at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands. His main interests include (Italo-)Romance and Germanic dialectology, morphosyntactic microvariation, comparative and historical linguistics and syntactic theory.

Hanna Ajer (Graduate Convenor)

Hanna AjerHanna is reading for a PhD under the supervision of Dr. Theresa Biberauer. Her research, which focuses on the adpositions of Lule Sami, a Sami language spoken in Northern Norway and Sweden, will allow her to combine her fascination for syntax with her interest in endangered languages. Before coming to Cambridge for her MPhil, Hanna read a BA in Arabic and Linguistics at School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

Harold Flohr (Graduate Convenor)

Harold FlohrHarold studied Indo-European languages, Ancient History and Celtic Studies at the University of Bonn between 2002-2010, as well as Irish (Old and Modern) in Maynooth between 2005-2006. He is interested in historical linguistics, language change, language contact and language death, as well as Irish and Welsh poetry. From January 2014 he is doing a PhD in Historical Linguistics on Irish phrasal verb constructions compared to those of other Celtic langauges at the University of Cambridge, supervised by Dr David Willis.

Kim Groothuis (Graduate Convenor)

Kim GroothuisKim Groothuis is a PhD student at the department of Italian at the University of Cambridge, funded by the AHRC DTP and the Cambridge Trust. Under the supervision of Professor Adam Ledgeway, she studies comparative Romance syntax. Her most recent work focuses on inflected infinitives in Romance. Before, she completed a research master in linguistics and a MA in Italian at Leiden University, after finishing BA degrees in Italian and in Classics. Her interests include theoretical syntax, Italian dialectology and historical linguistics.

Oliver Mayeux (Graduate Convenor)

Oliver MayeuxOliver Mayeux is a PhD student in the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Training Partnership. Under the supervision of Dr Mari Jones, he is using a diachronic corpus to investigate the morphosyntactic and phonological consequences of language obsolescence in Louisiana Creole. He is also interested in the role of ‘new speakers’, new technologies and identity in language endangerment and revitalization. These interests informed his MPhil, a corpus-based analysis of the variety of Louisiana Creole used by an online community of new speakers. Prior to coming to Cambridge, Oliver completed a BA in Korean and Linguistics with Yoruba at SOAS, University of London.

Tom Meadows (Graduate Convenor)

Oliver MayeuxTom is an MPhil Student in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at the University of Cambridge. His main interests lie around using Minimalist syntactic theory to explain morphological phenomena, with a particular interest in adjudicating between Agree-based and clitic-movement analysis of person-number-gender marking. Tom recently graduated from Downing College, Cambridge, with a BA in Linguistics. His dissertation focused on analysing the object marking found in certain varieties of Sorani Kurdish.

Nicolaos Neocleous (Graduate Convenor)

Nicolaos NeocleousNicolaos is a PhD student in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at the University of Cambridge. His PhD dissertation focuses on headedness in Romeyka, a Greek variety still spoken in north-east Turkey. His PhD studies are part of the research project ‘Description and Documentation of the Romeyka varieties in Pontus; Continuity, Contact and Change’, under principal investigator Dr Ioanna Sitaridou, and are partially funded by Soterios G. Hadjiminas Scholarships. Before he came to Cambridge, he read Classics, History, and Linguistics in Athens, Greece.

Afra Pujol i Campeny (Graduate Convenor)

Afra Pujol i CampenyAfra Pujol i Campeny is a PhD student in Old Catalan and Old Occitan (Queens' College, Cambridge). Before, she completed an MPhil in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics (Romance Pathway), after finishing a BA (Hons) in Classics (Homerton College, Cambridge). Her most recent work focuses on Medieval Catalan word order and information structure. Her interests include syntax, language acquisition, word order and information structure, sociolinguistics, historical linguistics and language death.

Eleonora Serra (Graduate Convenor)

Eleonora SerraEleonora is a PhD student in the Department of Italian. Her project, supervised by Dr Helena Sanson, focuses on the role played by linguistic prestige in the history of Italian in the early modern period. Before coming to Cambridge, Eleonora completed a master’s in Linguistics at the University of Oxford, after attaining a BA in Languages and Literature and a BA in Biological Sciences at the University of Ferrara. Her interests include historical linguistics, sociolinguistics and history of linguistic thought.

Jordan Thomas (Graduate Convenor)

Jordan ThomasJordan Thomas is a an MRes student in the Department of Social Anthropology, funded by the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission. Supervised by Dr Francoise Barbira-Freedman, he is exploring the intersections of species and language extinctions, and community-based initiatives that work to preserve languages and environments together. He is particularly interested in the ways that land tenure, sustainable land management techniques, and Indigenous languages are either mutually reinforced or threatened. He has worked with endangered language groups in Mexico, Colombia, and the United States, and will conduct comparative research for his PhD. Prior to Cambridge, Jordan completed an MSc in Sustainability, Culture, and Development at Durham University, and a BA in Anthropology at Kansas State University.

Other members

Tom Artiss

Tom ArtissTom Artiss is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge, who is currently doing fieldwork in Ladrador. His dissertation, "A social life of songs: perspectives on Inuitization from a community radio station in Nain, Labrador", explores the ways in which Western music reflects and inflects Inuit identities in Nain, Labrador. In addition to his doctoral research he also works with an Inuit drum-dancing and throat-singing group from Labrador who are reclaiming lost traditions from CDs and You Tube. This research addresses questions relating to the 'oral' part of oral literatures. What is orality? What happens to orality in a world of digitized media? Is something oral if it is transmitted on a CD,or is it simply aural? What happens to traditional cultures and modes of learning when face-to-face in person contact is absent? Tom organised the CELC seminar series for 2010-2011 with Elena Pala.

Naures Atto

Naures AttoNaures Atto is a Mellon Postdocoral Fellow in World Christianities at the Faculty of Divinity and has an affiliation with the Department of Anthropology. She holds a PhD from Leiden University. For her anthropological research, she has conducted extensive fieldwork among Assyrians/Syriacs in the European diaspora. One of the elements researched was the role of Surayt (a neo-Aramaic language) as the mother tongue in the identity construction of the people. In her present research she focuses on the integration strategies of the second generation Assyrians/Syriacs in Europe. She is one of the initiators of the Aramaic-Online Project. As the director of the Inanna Foundation she organized several international activities, among them EU funded educational projects.

David Baker

David BakerDavid Baker is a PhD student in the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic. He did his undergraduate degree in English at Pembroke College, Cambridge (2005–8) and his Masters in medieval English and Old Norse at the University of Oxford (2008–10). His PhD is on the stylistics of Old Norse skaldic poetry composed from the twelfth century onwards and is supervised by Dr. Judy Quinn. His interests include the use of metaphor, irony and linguistic play in post-classical verse compositions from medieval Norway and Iceland, re-interpretations of the heroic past and its ethical inheritence in the medieval period, and scribal variation in medieval poetic manuscripts. His linguistic interests include the afterlife of medieval Scandinavian language use in the British Isles and the language politics of modern multilingual countries, as well as modern Icelandic and Scottish Gaelic.

Jan-Jonathan Bock

Jan-Jonathan BockJan-Jonathan Bock is a PhD student in Social Anthropology at Peterhouse. He is currently conducting fieldwork in Italy focussed on the afterlife of catastrophe in the city of L’Aquila. In April 2009, an earthquake severely damaged the city, and the displacement of the population of the heavily-affected historic city centre in satellite settlements is ongoing. Jan’s research interests lie with the intersection of the perception of crisis/catastrophe and the changes in individual aspirations, notions of self, and subjectivities related to this.

Annie Burman

Annie BurmanAnnie Burman is a PhD student in Classical linguistics at King’s College. Her area of study is the methodology of language classification, specifically in relation to Italic languages. She completed her BA and MPhil at Cambridge. Her MPhil explored how linguistics has been used as a tool in political ideology, both historically and in the present day. She also holds an MA in modern history from Uppsala University. Her interest in minority languages concerns both the ancient world and modern times, ranging from regional languages in the Roman empire to endangered minority languages and modern multilingualism. Other interests include bilingualism, the interplay between language and ethnic identity, language shifts, and contact linguistics.

David Callander

David CallanderDavid Callander is a PhD student at the department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic under the supervision of Paul Russell and Richard Dance. He read English at Oxford, before moving to Cambridge for the MPhil. His research focuses on comparative study of early Welsh poetry (yr Hengerdd) and English poetry, with particular regard to narrative. Other interests include the medieval languages and literatures of North-West Europe, and Welsh literature of all periods, as well as language preservation and revitalization.

Christopher Connolly

Christopher ConollyChristopher Connolly is graduate student at Peterhouse, Cambridge. He is particularly interested in methods of language revitalisation and the underlying causes of language shift, as well as the consequences of state efforts to direct it. He is working, under the supervision of Dr Mari Jones, on Russian transfer in the Ukrainian dialects.

Thomas Godard

Thomas GodardThomas’s research focuses on the codification of English in the eighteenth century. He is specifically interested in the use of linguistic and metalinguistic references to French by English grammarians in their attempts to limit variation and fix the standard language.

Geoffrey Khan

Geoffrey KhanGeoffrey Khan has been working on the Neo-Aramaic dialects for the last fifteen years. Aramaic is a Semitic language that is still spoken in numerous vernacular dialects, many of which are now endangered. The Neo-Aramaic dialects that are spoken in northern Iraq, south-eastern Turkey, north-western Iran and the Caucasus, belonging to a sub-group known as North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic (NENA), are particularly endangered and it is to this sub-group that he has devoted most of his work. From 2004-2009 he directed an AHRC project on NENA, which aimed to produce a systematic documentation of the NENA dialects. This documentation is currently being inputted into a database and is being made accessible on the project website.

Anna Kibort

Anna KibortAnna Kibort was a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Linguistics. Having completed her PhD in Cambridge, she spent a period of time as a researcher with the Surrey Morphology Group. Her research interests are in descriptive Slavonic linguistics, morphosyntax (particularly using the formal architecture of Lexical-Functional Grammar), and typology. She collaborates with descriptive linguists and with researchers who develop electronic linguistic resources and ontologies, and is an advisor and contributor to E-MELD (Electronic Metastructure for Endangered Languages Data), an international team convened by the Linguist List who work on best practice in the preservation of endangered languages data and documentation.

Katherine McDonald

Katherine McDonaldKatherine McDonald is a Research Fellow in Classics at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. She completed her BA (2006-2009), MPhil (2009-2010) and PhD (2010-2013) at Pembroke College, Cambridge. Her doctoral dissertation studied language contact in pre-Roman Italy, particularly between Oscan and Greek (under the supervision of Dr James Clackson). Other topics of study include pre-Roman Pompeii, personal names and the spread of the earliest alphabets. She has a wide interest in historical sociolinguistics, language contact and gender linguistics.

Moreno Mitrovic

Moreno MitrovicMoreno is a graduate student in Linguistics at Cambridge. Under the supervision of Prof Ian Roberts, he focuses on diachronic syntax. Moreno has also studied Linguistic Field Methods with Dr Sarah Ogilvie and is interested in and working on the Avar language (mag’arul mats’), an endangered language in the Northeastern Caucasus.

Damien Mooney

Damien MooneyDamien is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin . After completing his MPhil at St John's College, Cambridge he is now studying at Balliol College, Oxford. His research focuses on the language of Bearn; a gallo-romance variety forming part of the Langues d'Oc dialect continuum. He works on the diachronic documentation and analysis of inter-dialectal variation within this relatively obsolescent variety of Gascon, on the bilateral transfer at all linguistic levels between bearnais and Standard French and on the identity of the last bearnais speakers. He is particularly interested in the role of perceptual salience frameworks in the maintenance and loss of phonological, morpho-syntactic and lexical variants in the dialect mix and in the Standard-Dialect contact and in the use of acoustic phonetics in documenting and explaining phonological variation.

Silva Nurmio

Silva NurmioSilva is a PhD student in the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic. She received her BA and MPhil from Aberystwyth University. Her main research interests are in comparative Celtic linguistics, in particular morphology, and her thesis looks at the development of plural formations and grammatical number in Old and Middle Welsh, with comparative material from the other Celtic languages. She is also interested in variation in the use of plural formations between different types of Middle Welsh texts, especially variation between poetry and prose as well as native texts and translations from Latin.

Joe Perry

Joe PerryJoe Perry is a PhD student in the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Cambridge. He is particularly interested in the increasingly threatened Tibeto-Burman languages of Nepal, and is writing a preliminary description of Gyalsumdo, an endangered Tibetan variety, as part of his PhD thesis, after completing nine months' fieldwork in Nepal. His other linguistic interests include phonology (especially the phonology of tone), syntax, and the links between them, as well as linguistic variation in the British Isles.

Natalia Petrovskaia

Natalia Petrovskaia Natalia Petrovskaia (BA Hons. (Cantab.), MPhil (Cantab.)) is writing a PhD thesis on the "Medieval Welsh Perceptions of the Orient" in the Dept. of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic under the supervision of Dr Paul Russell. She is also a visiting Research Student at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris, in the academic year 2010-11, working on a project comparing the medieval French and Welsh translations of Latin-language texts, on the invitation of Prof. Patrick Gautier Dalché. Her publications include “Dating Peredur: New Light on Old Problems”, Proceedings of the Harvard Celtic Colloquium 2009 (2010), [pp. 223-243] and, forthcoming, “La disparition du quasi dans les formules étymologiques des traductions galloises de l’Imago Mundi”, to be published in La formule au Moyen-Age : actes du colloque des 5 et 10 novembre 2010 (tbc). She has also edited the 2008 volume of Quaestio Insularis: Proceedings of the Cambridge Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic Colloquium. Her linguistic interests include in particular medieval and modern Welsh, French and English, as well as modern Russian and Japanese. She is particularly interested in texts and concepts that cross cultural and linguistic borders.

Simon Rew

Simon RewSimon Rew is a graduate of Peterhouse, Cambridge, where he studied French and Spanish. He is particularly interested in endangered Romance varieties as well as issues relating to prosody and intonation. Most recently, he has been working on collecting a corpus of spoken Spanish from Andean communities in Venezuela, which he used to publish a prosodic analysis within the 'Tones and Break Indices' framework.

Paul Russell

Paul Russell works on language contact in Roman Britain and early medieval Britain; evidence for bilingualism in the glossed MSS and teaching texts from early medieval Britain, especially those glossed in Celtic languages.

Norma Schifano

Norma SchifanoNorma has recently completed her PhD at the Department of Italian (University of Cambridge) with a dissertation on Romance verb-movement and is currently working as Research Associate for the Leverhulme-funded project entitled ‘Fading voices in Southern Italy: investigating language contact in Magna Graecia’ with Prof. Adam Ledgeway (PI) and Dr Giuseppina Silvestri (RA). Her research interests include historical and synchronic Romance and Greek comparative morphosyntax, with a special focus on language contact, TAM marking, functional make-up of the sentential core, verb-movement, adverbial syntax and cartography.

Ioanna Sitaridou

Ioanna SitaridouIoanna Sitaridou is a lecturer in Romance Philology and a Fellow of Queens' College. Prior to her Cambridge appointment she worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg. Her main areas of research are synchronic and diachronic syntax, in particular language contact, dialectal variation, acquisition and language change in the Romance languages and Greek. She is interested in developing a methodology for language documentation with emphasis on syntax in geocultural contexts where anthropological approaches are needed. She has been developing a research project to carry out fieldwork on the Hellenic varieties in Pontus, Turkey.

Mark Turin

Mark TurinMark Turin is a linguistic anthropologist. He studied archaeology and anthropology at the University of Cambridge, and holds a PhD in descriptive linguistics from Leiden University where he was affiliated to the Himalayan Languages Project. He is currently a Research Associate at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, where he directs both the recently established World Oral Literature Project, an urgent global initiative to document and make accessible endangered oral literatures before they disappear without record, and the Digital Himalaya Project which he co-founded in 2000 as a platform to make multi-media resources from the Himalayan region widely available online.

Sarah Waidler

Sarah Waidler Sarah Waidler is a Ph.D student in the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic. She did her undergraduate degree at the University of St Andrews and her Masters degree at the University of Glasgow. Her Ph.D is on the composition of hagiography in the central medieval period in Ireland and is supervised by Dr. Máire Ní Mhaonaigh. Her interests include the use of Irish and Latin in hagiographical texts, narrative structure and the perception of genre in the medieval period as well as the spread of ideas in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Her linguistic interests include Old/Middle Irish and Scottish Gaelic.

Jussi Wikström

Jussi Wikström Jussi is a PhD student in the Faculty of English, University of Cambridge. His PhD research looks at the vowel system of South Atlantic St Helenian English. This research will involve fieldwork in St Helena with the aim of collecting speech data from speakers from different age groups and social classes who grew up in the different districts of the island in order to build a comprehensive corpus of St Helenian English. The data will be used to address the question whether there is social and regional variation in St Helenian English as well as identify any sound changes taking place within the variety. Jussi is also interested in languages with few speakers. He takes a keen interest in approaches to sampling and inferential statistical analysis in the context of sociophonetic research and vowel normalisation in sociophonetics. He has conducted previous research in phonetics investigating speech and language therapy students’ acquisition of cardinal vowels and native and non-native speakers’ production and perception of the Received Pronunciation (RP) English LOT and THOUGHT vowels.

David Willis

David Willis David Willis is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Linguistics. Having completed his doctorate on the development of word order in Welsh, David has developed his interests further in the historical linguistics and syntax, particularly with reference to Celtic and Slavonic languages. He is currently running an AHRC project on the development of negation in European languages. He is interested in the methodology of language documentation and is currently collaborating with Maggie Tallerman (Newcastle) and Bob Borsley (Essex) on a project to develop a syntactic atlas of Welsh dialects. He has published widely in historical linguistics, including books on syntactic change in Welsh and contemporary Welsh syntax. David has taught a wide variety of courses, including historical linguistics, language variation (including language contact and language death) and syntax.

Patrick J. Zecher

Patrick ZecherPatrick is a PhD student at the Department of Comparative Linguistics and Celtic Studies at the Philipps University of Marburg, Germany, under the supervision of Erich Poppe and Máire Ní Mhaonaigh. He studied at the University College Cork, Ireland, and at the Philipps University of Marburg where he received his MA (Magister Artium) in Celtic Studies, Indology and Tibetology. He currently lives in Cambridge and works as a research associate on a Marburg-based project producing an edition of the Middle Breton mystery play Buhez Sante Barba. Patrick's thesis is a critical edition and discussion of the medieval Irish recensions of the 'Finding of the True Cross' (Inventio Sanctae Crucis), a popular narrative in late Antiquity and through the Middle Ages about St Helena finding the cross of Christ in Jerusalem. His research interests include medieval Irish and Welsh (translation) literature, historical linguistics and lexicography but also the Old English and Old Norse literatures. He is further interested in the current state and survival of the modern Celtic languages as well as the languages and cultures of the Nordic countries (especially Sámi and Finnish).

Affiliated members

Eleanor Coghill

Eleanor CoghillEleanor Coghill was until 2010 a post-doctoral researcher at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and has worked extensively on the endangered Neo-Aramaic dialects of Iraq, conducting fieldwork on around 12 dialects. Her background is in Semitic languages, including Arabic, Hebrew and Akkadian. Her research interests lie mainly in historical linguistics and typology: she is increasingly focusing on the role of language contact in the development of Aramaic and other languages of the region. She is now employed at the University of Konstanz in Germany, leading a project entitled "Neo-Aramaic Morphosyntax in its Areal-linguistic Context".

Jonathan Richard Kasstan

Jonathan KasstanI graduated from Cambridge University in 2010, where I developed an interest in language death theory. Under the supervision of Dr Mari Jones, I wrote my M.Phil thesis on phonological levelling and lexical erosion in Francoprovençal. My study sought to challenge the received view that language contact and gradual language shift invariably bring about the attrition and contraction of regional variation in the obsolescent dialect. I am in the process of completing a PhD at the University of Kent on language variation and change in Francoprovençal (supervised by Dr David Hornsby and Dr Damien Hall), where I am currently analysing a corpus of some 50 hours of speech samples, from over 60 research participants, collected in both France and Switzerland.