Personal profile


Kersti Börjars has degrees from Uppsala University (Filosofie Kandidat), the University of Leiden (Doctorandus) and a PhD from the University of Manchester.

From 1990 to 1994 she worked as Research Assistant to the Subordination and Complementation group of EUROTYP, a large European typological project. Since 1994, she has been a member of staff at The University of Manchester, where she was promoted to professor in 2002. During 2002, she was a visiting professor at Göteborg University, and she is currently Professor II at the University of Oslo.

She was appointed Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs in the newly formed Faculty of Humanities in January 2004 and remained in this role until January 2008. She was Head of School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures from 2009 until 2012. She is currently Associate Vice-President for Teaching, Learning and Students.

She was the President of The Linguistics Association of Great Britain from 2005 until 2011. She was a member of the RAE 2008 panel 58 for linguistics and is Chair of sub-panel 28 'Modern languages and linguistics' of REF2014. She is the editor of Journal of Linguistics. Since January 2017, she is Professor II in Nordic Languages at The University of Oslo.

Research interests

I am interested in the areas of syntax and morphology, including general theoretical issues, as well as issues relating to particular languages. I also work on language change. My research has focused on Germanic languages, in particular the Scandinavian ones and Pennsylvania German, but a number of my publications have a wider comparative aim. Among other things, I have worked on noun phrases, complementation, agreement, the role of morphology in theories of syntax and I have argued against specific claims in the literature of 'degrammaticalisation' in Germanic languages. Most recently, I have considered how morpho-syntactic change can be accounted for within different theoretical architectures.

With colleagues in Manchester, Oslo and Wuppertal, I have a project on early Germanic noun phrases for which we have receievd network funding from the Nansen foundation in Norway.

Jointly with David Denison I have recently worked on a project entitled Germanic possessive -s : an empirical, historical and theoretical study project page funded by the AHRC.

I have run an ESRC funded project on Pennsylvania German as spoken in Waterloo County: Modelling syntactic change in Pennsylvania German.

Click the highlighted link to view a list of selected publications.



Since I have a University-level role, I currently teach only one course unit within Linguistics and English Language:

  • LELA20022 Introduction to syntactic theory. This course aims to show students the value of modelling morpho-syntax in a theoretical framework. The students are introduced to Lexical-Functional Grammar, we explore the properties of a range of phenomena that any theory worth its salt should be able to account for and then consider how Lexical-Functional Grammar would analyse them.

I have also taught an introduction to Lexical-Functional Grammar outside the University, at a "Winter School" at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand and at the Universities of Göteborg and Stockholm.

In the past I have taught course units on:

  • Principles of Linguistics
  • English grammar
  • Morphology and syntax
  • Syntactic theory
  • Morphological theory
  • Historical linguistics
  • Germanic syntax

Jointly with Kate Burridge at Monash University, Melbourne, I have written an introductory text book: Introducing English Grammar (Currently in its 3d edition, Routledge).


Jointly with Rachel Nordlinger (Melbourne University) and Louisa Sadler (Essex University), I have written Lexical-Functional Grammar: an introduction, which will be published with Cambridge University Press in 2019.

Jointly with Bob Borsley at Essex University, I have edited a book a collection on constraint-based theories and their implications that can be used as an advanced text book: Non-transformational syntax. Formal and explicit models of grammar (2011, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell).

I was invited to write the section on 'Linguistics in the first year of single honours programmes' for the Good Practice Guide set up by the Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies

External positions

Professor II, Nordic Languages, University of Oslo

1 Jan 201731 Dec 2020


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