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Dr Marc Olivier is a linguist working primarily at the intersection of formal syntax and language change. His research focuses on word order issues in medieval Romance languages, Old French and Old Occitan in particular. He studied English Literature (BA) and Formal Linguistics (MSc) before graduating with a PhD in Historical Syntax (with a thesis focusing on clitic placement and infinitives). He is currently working on a monograph entitled Clitic Placement in the History of French that will be published with Oxford University Press, in the Oxford Studies in Diachronic and Historical Linguistics series.

In 2023, Dr Olivier was awarded a Seal of Excellence by the European Commission in recognition of the quality of his research. He is the Principal Investigator of the project The Effects of Syntactic Operations on Cognition (supported by a John Fell Fund grant), which employs two Research Assistants.

Prior to working at the University of Oxford, Dr Olivier held teaching and research positions at Queen's University Belfast and Ulster University. Committed to fostering a nurturing and inclusive environment for linguists, Dr Olivier currently sits on the Executive Board of Societas Linguistica Europaea, which is the largest linguistics society in Europe, and on the Advisory Board of the Undergraduate Linguistics Association of Britain. Previously, he sat on the Executive Committee of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain.



Dr Olivier is co-convener of the Occitan Reading Group, which holds weekly meetings (more information here). During these gatherings, attendees are guided through the reading and translating of Old and Modern Occitan texts. Everyone is welcome to join, and no prior knowledge of Occitan is required (although being familiar with a Romance language is recommended).

Dr Olivier currently teaches a mix of tutorials, classes and lectures for the following:

  • Prelims - General Linguistics
  • Prelims - Semantics and Pragmatics
  • Paper B2 - Syntax
  • Paper B6 - Historical Linguistics
  • Paper IV - History of French
  • Paper V - Modern French Linguistics
  • Paper XIII/A - General Linguistics


forthcoming. Olivier, Marc. Clitic Placement in the History of French. Book under contract with Oxford University Press (series: Oxford Studies in Diachronic and Historical Linguistics).

in press. Olivier, Marc. Clitic placement with infinitives in the diachrony of French: from enclisis to proclisis.  Journal of Historical Syntax. LingBuzz: 007544

2024Olivier, Marc, Sevdali, Christina, & Raffaella Folli. Infinitive fronting as a transparency effect in Old and Middle French. In New perspectives on the syntax of causative and restructuring verbs in Romance, eds. Jan Casalicchio & Peter Herbeck. Isogloss: Open Journal of Romance Linguistics. DOI: 10.5565/rev/isogloss.314

2023Olivier, Marc, Sevdali, Christina, & Raffaella Folli. Clitic climbing and restructuring in the history of French. Glossa: a journal of general linguistics 8(1). pp. 1–45. DOI: 10.16995/glossa.10135

2022. Olivier, Marc. Diachronie de la proclise et de l'enclise avec l'infinitif en français médiéval (12e-15e s.). In Le temps long: l'évoution du français dans un corpus textuel calibé. Le témoignage de la coutume de Normandie, ed. Mathieu Goux. Studia Linguistica Romanica 8, pp. 10-35. DOI: 10.25364 /19.2022.8.2 

2021. Olivier, Marc. Language in time: assessing Medieval French registers in a quest for accuracy in historical linguistics. French Studies Bulletin 42(159), pp.23-27. DOI: 10.1093/frebul/ktab012