Personal profile


Until October 2011 I held the Mont Follick Chair of Comparative Philology in the School of Languages, Linguistics & Cultures. I am now retired and have the title Professor Emeritus of General & Romance Linguistics, which is a more explicit indication of my research and teaching interests. I am a former President of the Philological Society and of the International Society for Historical Linguistics. I am a Fellow of the British Academy, where I was Vice-President for Research and HE Policy from 2010 to 2014, and a member of the Academia Europaea. I served as President of the Permanent International Committee of Linguists for the period 2013-4.

I completed my undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of Cambridge and have held lecturing posts at the Universities of London (Birkbeck College), Lancaster, Hull and Cambridge. I was an Erskine Fellow at the University of Canterbury (NZ) in 2000 and have held visiting posts at the Universities of Copenhagen, Pavia and Rome. In RAE 2008 I was chair of Main Panel M, which included Modern Languages, Celtic Studies, Linguistics and English Language & Literature.

In 2007 I was the surprised and very pleased recipient of a Festschrift on the occasion of my 60th birthday entitled Sui dialetti italoromanzi. Saggi in onore di Nigel B. VIncent edited by two of my former PhD students Delia Bentley and Adam Ledgeway.

Research interests

My research interests lie in the modelling of grammatical change using feature-based approaches to morphology and syntax, especially within the framework of Lexical-Functional Grammar (joint work with Kersti Börjars). I have written numerous articles and chapters on the categories and mechanisms of linguistic change and on the history and structure of Latin and the Romance languages, in particular on Italian and the dialects of Italy. I was co-director of the AHRC-funded project entitled Sintassi degli Antichi Volgari d'Italia (2000-5). I co-edited with Martin HarrisStudies in the Romance Verb (1982)andThe Romance Languages (1988)andwas the editor of the Journal of Linguistics (1983-1993). I also co-edited with Paola Benincà and Tullio De Mauro and contributed to Italiano e dialetti nel tempo: Saggi di grammatica per Giulio C. Lepschy (Rome, Bulzoni 1996), and with Ans van Kemenade a collection of papers from the 3rd Conference on Diachronic Generative Syntax entitled Parameters of Morphosyntactic Change (CUP, 1997).


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