Research

My primary research interest lies in developing techniques to reconstruct and account for phonological change over time, and investigating to what extent structure plays a role in diachronic phonology. One aim is to improve methods used to access fine-grained phonetic evidence from dead languages, to allow a better evaluation of theories of sound change grounded in phonetics. The methodology broadly consists of: (1) analysing the results of, and carrying out, phonetic experiments which might illuminate the conditions in the language, (2) examining the typology of phenomena in the language, and the insights of phonological theories, (3) reconstructing the phonetics and phonology of the dead language, and (4) investigating the phonological implications of the reconstruction, both for the language and for phonological theory. We can then better address the much-debated question of whether phonetics and analogical pressures alone drive sound change, or if structural constraints play a role.

My current research focuses on three areas: (1) investigating the role played by prosodic structure in sound change, examining the roles of syllable and foot structure in English, Latin, Bengali, and several Romance languages; (2) working in collaboration with Professor Joan Beal (University of Sheffield) and Dr Nuria Yáñez-Bouza (University of Manchester) to construct a database of eighteenth-century English phonology from contemporary sources, such as pronouncing dictionaries, in order to address problems in English phonology, both historical and contemporary; (3) working in collaboration with the Oxford Phonetics Laboratory to investigate theories of speech production and phonological representation in the mind, from the evidence of reading aloud non-words, examining questions of both phonological and psycholinguistic significance.

Linguistics