Dr Sam Wolfe

Sam Wolfe MPhil, MA, PhD (Cantab.)
Associate Professor of French Linguistics, Tutor and Fellow of St Catherine's


The main focus of my research is on French and Gallo-Romance, though I have also published on the syntax of other Romance varieties (Spanish, Venetian, Sardinian, and Sicilian). I am currently writing a monograph entitled Syntactic Change in French for OUP, which will chart the development of a range of phenomena from Latin through to contemporary French and consider their significance for formal syntactic and historical linguistic theory.

I am co-editor of a major Oxford University Press handbook entitled Rethinking Verb Second (2020) Variation and Change in Gallo-Romance Grammar (2020, OUP) and a forthcoming volume entitled Continuity and Change in Germanic and Romance. A monograph on word order in Medieval Romance languages appeared in 2018 with OUP, entitled Verb Second in Medieval Romance.


I teach a broad range of papers within the Oxford course, including French language and linguistics at all levels, comparative Romance linguistics, historical linguistics, and Italo-Romance linguistics. I also teach the general linguistics course both at Prelims and FHS level for St Catherine’s and St John’s.

Graduate Teaching

I am always keen to hear from prospective graduate students working on topics within synchronic or diachronic Romance morphosyntax as well as general topics within historical linguistics and French linguistics.

Access and Admissions

I have interests in school governance and educational policy and am happy to participate in access and admissions initiatives both within Oxford and elsewhere. Alongside responsibilities for organising the UNIQ course in French, I am currently coordinating a national project to improve the number of care-leavers accessing Higher Education. I believe it’s important for those of us in HE to participate actively in education at all levels and have served as Vice-Chair of Directors of a Multi-Academy Trust and Vice-Chair of Governors at a Sixth Form College. 


Monographs and Edited Volumes:

Under Contract. Syntactic Change in French.

Under Contract. Continuity and Variation in Germanic and Romance. Oxford: Oxford University Press (with Christine Meklenborg).

2020. Variation and Change in Gallo-Romance Grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press (with Martin Maiden).

2020. Rethinking Verb Second. Oxford: Oxford University Press ( with Rebecca Woods).

2018. Verb Second in Medieval Romance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles: 

In Prep. “On the Loss of OV in French”. 

Forthcoming. “Reconsidering Variation and Change in the Medieval French Subject System”. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics(1).

2019. “Redefining the typology of V2 languages: The view from Medieval Romance and beyond”. Linguistic Variation 19 (1) Special Issue ‘A Micro-Perspective on V2 in Romance and Germanic’, 16-46.

2018. “Probing the Syntax of a Problematic Particle: Old French ‘SI’ Revisited”. Transactions of the Philological Society 116 (3), 332-362.

2016. “A Comparative Perspective on the Evolution of Romance Clausal Structure”. Diachronica 33 (4), 461-502.

2016. “On the Left Periphery of V2 Languages”. Rivista di Grammatica Generativa 38, 287-310.

2015. “Verb-Initial Orders in Medieval Romance: A Comparative Account.” Revue Romaine de Linguistique. Special Issue on Syntactic Variation.

2015. “The nature of Old Spanish verb second reconsidered.” Lingua 164, 132-155.

2015. “Microvariation in Old Italo-Romance Syntax: Evidence from Old Sardinian and Old Sicilian.” Archivio Glottologico Italiano 100 (1), 3-36.

2015. “The Old Sardinian Condaghes: A Syntactic Study.Transactions of the Philological Society 113 (2), 177-205.

Peer-Reviewed Book Chapters:

In Prep. “Sentential Word Order” In J. Garzonio A Grammar of Old Venetian. With Cecilia Poletto.

In Prep c. “Germanic Properties in Romance — the Old French Contact Hypothesis Revisited”. In C. Salvesen and S. Wolfe (eds) Continuity and Variation in Germanic and Romance. Oxford: OUP.

Submitted. “Resumption in Medieval Romance: Reconsidering SI”. In L. Haegeman, K. De Clercq, T. Lohndal and C. M. Salvesen (eds.) And then there were three. The syntax of V3 adverbial resumption in Germanic and in Romance: a comparative perspective. Oxford: OUP.

2020. “Old Gallo-Romance, Periodization and the Left Periphery”. In S. Wolfe and M. Maiden (eds) Variation and Change in Gallo-Romance Grammar. Oxford: OUP, 9-40.

2020. “Introduction” In R. Woods and S. Wolfe (eds.) Rethinking Verb Second. Oxford: OUP. With Rebecca Woods.

2020. “Rethinking Medieval Romance V2” In R. Woods and S. Wolfe (eds.) Rethinking Verb Second. Oxford: OUP.

2020. “Old French SI, Grammaticalisation and the Interconnectedness of Change”. In B. Drinka (ed.) Historical Linguistics 2017: Selected papers from the 23rd International Conference on Historical Linguistics, San Antonio, 31st July — 4th August 2017. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

2018. “Occitan, Verb Second and the Medieval Romance Word Order Debate”. In J. Berns, H. Jacobs and D. Nouveau (eds.) Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 2015: Selected Papers from Going Romance Nijmegen 2015. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 315-336.

2018. “Variation in Two Sister Languages: Word Order in Old French and Old Occitan”. In R. Zafiu, G.P Dindelegan, A. Dragomirescu, A. Nicolae and I. N. Paraschiv (eds.) Romance Syntax. Comparative and diachronic perspectives, 53-85. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars.

2015. “Medieval Sardinian: New Evidence for Syntactic Change from Latin to Romance”. In D. T. T. Haug (ed.) Historical Linguistics 2013: Selected papers from the 21st International Conference on Historical Linguistics, Oslo, 5-9 August 2013. Amsterdam: John Benjamins

2015. “Evidence for Microparametric Variation in Medieval Romance Syntax? The View from Old Sicilian and Old Sardinian”. Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 2013. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.


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