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Personal profile

Overview

I am a Professor of Romance Linguistics in the Department of Linguistics and English Language at the University of Manchester. My principal research interest is in the interface of syntax with discourse and lexical meaning, which I explore on evidence from the microvariation attested synchronically in the grammars of the lesser-known Romance languages. By observing these closely cognate languages, I investigate how atoms of lexical meaning are reflected by patterns of grammatical variation. Over the years I have explored extensively the interplay of discourse with syntax, notably in existential and presentational constructions. I have held Principal Investigator positions in two research projects funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (see http://existentials.humanities.manchester.ac.uk). From 2006 to 2012 I was an Honorary Member of Council of the Philological Society (http://www.philsoc.org.uk/ ). I am currently on the board of consulting editors of Linguistics and an Associate Editor of Folia Linguistica Historica (one of two peer-reviewed journals of the Societas Linguistica Europaea). I am a syntax consultant on the Atlante Linguistico della Sicilia (http://atlantelinguisticosicilia.it/cms/)) and I have in the past collaborated with the Atlante Sintattico dell’Italia Settentrionale (http://asit.maldura.unipd.it/). I am the author of two monographs, published by Mouton de Gruyter (2006) and Oxford University Press (2015), and of over forty research articles, which have appeared in major linguistics journals (Glossa, Journal of Linguistics, Language, Lingua, Linguistics, Rivista di Linguistica, Transactions of the Philological Society…) and in edited collections. I have edited four collections/ thematic issues of journals and at present I am a member of the editorial team of the Cambridge Handbook of Role and Reference Grammar (to be published in 2023 by Cambridge University Press). Although I fully engage with linguistic research of any theoretical persuasion, the framework which I usually adopt in my own work is that of Role and Reference Grammar (http://linguistics.buffalo.edu/people/faculty/vanvalin/rrg.html). This is ideally suited to the investigation of the discourse-semantics-syntax interface and to the study of syntactic typology. I am also familiar with the cartographic model, which has been applied extensively to the study of the syntax of the dialects of Italy.

Appointment history

2002 to 2004, Lecturer in Italian Studies, The University of Salford.
2004 to 2007, Lecturer in Italian Studies, The University of Manchester.
2007 to 2015, Senior Lecturer in Italian Language and Linguistics, The University of Manchester.
August 2015 to present, Professor of Romance Linguistics, Division of Linguistics and English Language, The University of Manchester
 
Membership of bodies
The Societas Linguistica Europaea.
The Linguistic Association of Great Britain.
The Centro di Studi Filologici e Linguistici Siciliani.
The Arts and Humanities Research Council Peer Review College (from 2017 to 2020).
The Philological Society (Honorary Secretary for publications from 2006 to 2012).
 
Awards and research projects
Research Support Fund award of the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures (£1.8K) to conduct research on Gallo-Italian dialects (November 2014-June 2015).
AHRC Research Grant, Standard Scheme (AH/H032509/1, £535,927): Existential constructions: An investigation into the Italo-Romance dialects (November 2010-June 2014).
AHRC Research Grant, Research Leave Scheme (AH/E506011/1, £23,268): Existential constructions: discourse, semantics, syntax (Semester 2: Academic year 2008/2009).
Consultant on the Atlante Linguistico della Sicilia (on-going), the Atlante Sintattico d'Italia (Universita' degli studi di Padova) (2013-2015) and on the AHRC-funded project Sintassi degli Antichi Volgari d'Italia (University of MAnchester and University of Bristol, 2000-2004).
 
Editor roles
Member of the Board of Consulting Editors, Linguistics (2019-)
Associate Editor of Folia Linguistica Historica (2020-)
Member of the International Advisory Board of Italian Journal of Linguistics (2013-2015).
Honorary Secretary for Publications (monograph series), The Philological Society (2006-2012).


Leadership
Programme Director of the MA Linguistics, University of Manchester (January 2019 - August 2021).
Expert peer reviewer for Italian Ministry for Education, University and Research (MIUR).
Head of the Division of Languages and Intercultural Studies,The University of Manchester (2016-2017)
Head of the Division of Linguistics and English Language, The University of Manchester (2012-2014)
Head of the Department of Russian and Eastern European Studies, The University of Manchester (2011-2012)
Head of the Department of Italian Studies, The University of Manchester (2010-2012)
Director of the Institute of Linguistics and Language Studies, The University of Manchester (2008-2010)



 
 
 

 

Research interests

My principal research interest is in the interface of morphosyntax with discourse and lexical meaning, which I explore on evidence from the microvariation attested synchronically in the grammars of major and lesser-known Romance languages. By observing these closely cognate languages, I investigate whether and to what extent the attested patterns of grammatical variation depend on differences in the sensitivity to lexically-driven meaning and to discourse. My principal research contributions to date have been on split intransitivity, existential and presentational constructions, the discourse and semantic underpinnings of subjecthood, and the formation of result state adjectives. At present I am investigating V-S agreement on evidence from Northern Italo-Romance dialects and psych-verbs on evidence from Sicilian and other Romace languages.

I have a keen interest in the documentation of the Romance dialects of Italy, a large number of Romance languages which are rapidly receding under pressure from the national language (Italian). In my AHRC-funded research project on existential and locative constructions, I set up a publicly accessible source of data from Italo-Romance and Sardinian dialects of Italy (http://existentials.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/). With Francesco Ciconte and Silvio Cruschina, the RAs on the project, I also produced a collection of short stories and fairy tales in the dialects of Italy. This is available on DVD and booklet.

Principal awards :

Research Support Fund award of the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures (£1.8K) to conduct research on Gallo-Italian dialects (November 2014-June 2015).

 AHRC Research Grant, Standard Scheme (AH/H032509/1, £535,927): Existential constructions: An investigation into the Italo-Romance dialects (November 2010-June 2014): http://www.existentials.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/

 AHRC Research Grant, Research Leave Scheme (AH/E506011/1, £23,268): Existential constructions: discourse, semantics, syntax (Semester 2: Academic year 2008/2009).

Teaching

As a teacher, I seek to encourage curiosity and enthusiam for knowledge and scientific investigation. I reward rigorous and independent thinking and clarity of thought and expression. I pay particular attention to the development of transferable skills, which students can apply later in life in any work environment.


Over the years I have taught undergraduate and postgraduate course units on Italian and Romance linguistics, the syntax-lexical semantics interface, English morphology and syntax, stylistics, dialectology (in particular, the Romance dialects of Italy) and Role and Reference Grammar.

I currently teach both in the Department of Linguistics and English Language and in the Modern Languages Department. The course units that I offer at the moment are the following:

LELA10301 - English Word and Sentence Structure (level 1, 20 credits, ca. 130 students, compulsory for all students on English Language and Linguistics degrees).

LELA32001/LELA62001/ITAL32001 - Romance Linguistics (level 3 and MA, 20 credits, ca. 30 students).

LELA20042/LELA30642/LELA60642 - Meaning in Grammar (levels 2, 3 and MA, 20 credits, ca. 50 students).

ITAL50510 - Italian Language Lecture (a weekly lecture on the Italian language, which is part of the core language course unit taken by Italian Studies students at level 1).

I also co-teach the Research Methods component of our MA Linguistics.

 

Supervision information

Postgraduate supervisions
Over the years I have supervised postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers working on a variety of topics in Italian and Romance syntax as well as tense, aspect, modality and voice in typological perspective. I welcome doctoral supervisions in the following areas: syntactic microvariation, Italian and Romance syntax and dialectology,the discourse-syntax interface, the syntax-lexical semantics interface, syntactic theory.

Here is a sample of the PhD theses that I have supervised recently:

 

The Syntactic-Pragmatic Interface in North-Eastern Italian Dialects: Consequences for the Geometry of the Left Periphery

Author: De Cia, A.
Supervisor: Bentley, D. (Supervisor)

UoM administered thesis: Phd

 

2017

The microvariation in passive and impersonal constructions in Italo-Romance dialects of Italy

Author: Stampone Chapman, V.
Supervisor: Bentley, D. (Supervisor)

UoM administered thesis: Phd

 

2012

Testing the Interclausal Relations Hierarchy: Aspectual and Modal Periphrases in Modern Sardinian

Author: Casti, F. 
Supervisor: Bentley, D. (Supervisor)

UoM administered thesis: Phd

 

2010

Existentials in Early Narratives of the Vernaculars of Italy

Author: Ciconte, F.M.
Supervisor: Bentley, D. (Supervisor)

UoM administered thesis: Phd

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities

Areas of expertise

  • P Philology. Linguistics
  • discourse-syntax interface
  • lexical semantics-syntax interface
  • microvariation
  • PC Romance languages
  • lesser-known Romance languages
  • dialects of Italy

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