My research investigates the relationship between language change and language structure. I use data from language change as evidence for questions about the mechanisms underlying change and how language is structured in the mind, incorporating quantitative and computational tools of analysis.
I am a postdoctoral researcher in the Surrey Morphology Group (SMG). My current project, Predicting Language Evolution (funded by the Leverhulme Trust), aims to produce statistical models of morphological change.
Before returning to Surrey I was a researcher at the Centre for Language Evolution at the University of Edinburgh, where I developed computer simulations to explore links between sociolinguistic typology and linguistic complexity, as part of the ERC project The Evolution of Linguistic Complexity.
From 2016-2019 I was a postdoctoral researcher in SMG working on the AHRC funded project Loss of Inflection.
In 2016 I completed my PhD at the University of Oxford on the subject of Analogy in Morphological Change.
Areas of specialism
Sims-Williams, Helen (2021). Token Frequency as a Determinant of Morphological Change. Journal of Linguistics, 58(3), 571-607.
Sims-Williams, Helen and Hans-Olav Enger (2020). The Loss of Inflection as Grammar Complication. Diachronica 38(1), 111-150
Bond, Oliver, Sims-Williams, Helen, and Matthew Baerman (2020). Contact and Linguistic Typology. In Raymond Hickey (ed.), The Handbook of Language Contact (2nd Edition). Wiley-Blackwell.
Sims-Williams, Helen and Matthew Baerman (2020). A Typological Perspective on the Loss of Inflection. In Svenja Kranich and Tine Breban (eds), Lost in Change: Causes and processes in the loss of grammatical constructions and categories. John Benjamins. 21-49.
Sims-Williams, Helen, & Matthew Baerman (2019). Loss of Inflection Database. University of Surrey. https://lossofinflection.surrey.ac.uk
Sims-Williams, Helen (2016). Analogical Levelling and Optimisation: The Treatment of Pointless Lexical Allomorphy in Greek. Transactions of the Philological Society, 114(3), 315-338.
Sims-Williams, Helen (2016). Analogy in Morphological Change. (PhD Thesis, University of Oxford).