The evolution of morphological paradigm complexity as words undergo fusion

As words fuse together over the centuries, how do the organisational systems of morphology restructure themselves across the world’s languages?

Start date
1 January 2022
3 years
Application deadline
top banner
Funding source
University of Surrey
Funding information

Tuition fees, stipend at £15,609 p.a. and RTSG of £1,000 p.a.


How do inflectional systems evolve? One process of language change is univerbation, where two erstwhile words become one, as in Latin ‘cantare habeo’ > French ‘chanterai’. A far-reaching ramification of univerbation can be the reshaping of a language’s inflectional system, yet presently we possess little detailed, systematic knowledge of what is possible and what is likely during these events. For instance, to what extent are inflectional classes disrupted, and how? And to what stages in the grammaticalisation dynamic does it make sense to attribute these changes? The recipient of this studentship will help to reveal how inflectional systems transform when words collide.

The student will join the vibrant research environment at the Surrey Morphology Group, receiving training and carrying out their work among researchers at all levels of seniority, in the world’s leading centre of research into inflectional morphology. The project is a component of a British Academy Global Professorship grant to Prof. Erich Round, modelling the evolutionary dynamics of inflectional systems. The recipient will work closely with supervisors Professor Erich Round and Dr Matthew Baerman, and will have daily contact with colleagues working at the leading edge of a host of fascinating, challenging topics in morphology and language change.

Eligibility criteria

Applicants are expected to hold a good first degree (a minimum 2:1 or equivalent) and an MA in Linguistics. In exceptional cases, students with a good first degree will be considered.

English Language requirements 

IELTS Academic 6.5 overall with 6.0 in Writing, or equivalent. 

How to apply

Applications should be submitted via the Linguistics programme page on the "Apply" tab. Please clearly state the studentship title and supervisor on your application. 

Application deadline

Contact details

Erich Round

Studentships at Surrey

We have a wide range of studentship opportunities available.