Research

My research spans two distinct but overlapping areas of linguistics: Comparative Indo-European Philology and Historical Syntax. My particular focus is on syntactic reconstruction and Proto-Indo-European.

Reconstructing the syntax of Proto-Indo-European has long presented a challenge to Comparative Philologists. In my doctoral thesis on relative clauses, I argue that the theoretical framework of Minimalism, and Minimalist theories of syntactic change, provide the necessary theoretical machinery for the task of syntactic reconstruction. I demonstrate the viability of Minimalist reconstruction in my treatment of relative clauses, which present a particular point of interest for both Indo-European philology and syntactic theory.

The project I’m currently working on (with Ian Roberts, Jim Baker, Marieke Meelen & Elena Isolani) seeks to establish 87 clausal parameter values for PIE, employing the methodology of Parametric Comparison.

Syntactic reconstruction is only possible when our hypotheses are informed by theories of grammatical change; for this reason, my research also leads me to focus closely on the links between synchronic and diachronic syntax, Grammaticalisation theory, and language change at large.

In the course of my research I have worked across a wide range of Indo-European languages, both ancient and modern; those I have a particular specialism in include Latin, Ancient Greek, Sanskrit and Hittite.

Critical Ancient World Studies

Alongside my linguistic research, I have a commitment to decolonising Classics and the study of the ancient world more generally. In this connection, I work on the role Comparative Philology can play in a critical reassessment of the wider discipline. I believe that the inherent pluralism of comparative methodology can act as a conduit through which ethnocentric & supremacist ideologies in the field can be challenged; this is in turn dependent on a reflexive view of Comparative Philology itself, especially when it comes to language pedagogy and curriculum development.