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Congratulations to Sam Wolfe (Professor of French and Romance Linguistics), who has been awarded one of the prestigious Philip Leverhulme Prizes.

His work combines evidence from historical manuscripts with the latest tools from theoretical linguistics and language acquisition to develop theories on why the Romance languages – spoken by nearly a billion people on the planet – take the grammatical ’shape’ that they do. He will use the prize money towards conducting detailed research into how social structure and language acquisition interact to speed up or slow down grammatical change. This will involve fieldwork in France, Italy, Brazil, Canada, and Romania to explore how different languages have evolved in very different circumstances.

He says: ‘This award will have a transformational impact on my research and allow me to dedicate my time to better understanding how and why languages change very quickly in some circumstances but remain very stable in others. The project will be challenging but I am very much looking forward to seeing the results and the impact on our understanding of linguistic variation and change. I am very grateful to be part of a University, two Faculties, and a College that allow me freedom to pursue research questions which interest me, even if we don’t yet know what results this will yield.’

Professor Jonathan Thacker, Chair of Faculty Board, says: 'The whole of the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages is delighted to hear of Professor Sam Wolfe's success and will look forward to learning from and engaging with the cutting-edge research that the Philip Leverhulme Prize will do so much to support.'