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Classical and Comparative Philology and Lingustics (E)

Cambridge is a leading centre for theoretical, descriptive, comparative and historical linguistics as applied to the analysis of the Classical and other Indo-European languages and the reconstructions of Proto-Indo-European, and provides a wide range of possibilities for postgraduate study.

The Classics Faculty's Linguistics Seminar and Graduate Linguistics seminar meet regularly each term, and in recent years have attracted papers from leading international scholars in the field as well as providing opportunities for linguists and graduate students from Cambridge and elsewhere in the UK to present and discuss their ideas. We can offer teaching and supervision in linguistic theory and method in their application to the following languages: Greek from the Bronze Age to the present day (there is a good collection of Byzantine and Modern Greek texts in the Classics library, and we are fortunate to have a share in the services of David Holton, University Lecturer in Modern Greek); Latin from the earliest documents into the middle ages; the Italic languages; Vedic; and the Early Germanic languages. In addition each year in the summer term a graduate reading class in an Indo-European language is led by a senior member of the Faculty. There are excellent relations with the Linguistics and Romance Philology departments as well as with scholars in other departments specialising in, for example, Celtic, Sanskrit and Hebrew, and it is possible to attend courses in these areas and incorporate topics from them into our own graduate programme. There is a regular graduate course in the interpretation and epigraphy of Mycenean texts taught each year (see the Mycenaean Epigraphy Group pages), and the Faculty also offers courses in papyrology, palaeography and epigraphy which are relevant to the study of Greek and Latin.

Coulter George, Professor of Classics at the University of Virginia (Former undergraduate exchange student, graduate and research fellow), describes the E caucus:
‘the Combination of scholarly excellence and genial esprit de corps leads, for instance, to vigorous, yet good-natured debate during the seminars for the graduate students. There is a real open-mindedness, tempered with  beneficial criticism, that means that even first-year students, from a wide range of international backgrounds, can be assured that their ideas will be given a fair hearing and refined over the course of the discussion—an atmosphere they can then propagate when teaching their own students in turn. Moreover, the openness of the faculty extends beyond Greek and Latin: the Classics Faculty has become a focal point for the entire historical linguistics community in Cambridge, thanks to the regular practice of hosting speakers on topics in other Indo-European languages as well.’

Many of our graduate students have gone on to academic posts in Britain, Europe, and the USA and elsewhere, either in Classics or in other areas of Indo-European linguistics or General Linguistics. They include Philip Burton (St. Andrews), Richard Janko (University College London), Geoffrey Horrocks and James Clackson (Cambridge), Robert Maltby (Leeds), Io Manolessou (Academy of Athens), Katherine McDonald (Exeter), Benedicte Nielsen Whitehead (Copenhagen), Alan Sommerstein and Alex Mullen (Nottingham), Olga Tribulato (Ca' Foscari, Venice).

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