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Dr Tam Blaxter

  • College positions:

    Research Fellow

  • Subject:

Degrees

BA Linguistics (University of Essex), MPhil General Linguistics and Comparative Philology (University of Oxford), PhD Linguistics (University of Cambridge)

Research interests

Most of my work is focused on linguistic diffusion - the spread of new linguistic forms through speech communities. In particular I'm interested in explaining recurring diffusion patterns, such as female speakers leading ongoing changes or cities leading changes compared with rural areas. I do both historical work, particularly focusing on Old and Middle Norwegian and Old Icelandic, and modern work with Modern English dialects and with Modern Norwegian. In each case I'm also interested in methodological questions of how to get bigger and better datasets than we have traditionally had access to: in the historical context by selecting different types of documents for study; in the modern context by using smartphone apps and social media to gather data.
I'm currently working on an ESRC-funded project entitled "Investigating the diffusion of morphosyntactic innovations using social media", which uses Twitter to investigate language change in modern Norwegian, Welsh, British English and Turkish.

Teaching

I contribute to teaching historical linguistic theory and the history of the English language to undergraduates in the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics.

Publications

Blaxter, Tam. 2015. “Gender and language change in Old Norse sentential negatives.” Language Variation and Change 27.3:349–375.
Blaxter, Tam. 2014. “Applying keyword analysis to gendered language in the Íslendingasögur.” Nordic Journal of Linguistics 37:169–198.

Other interests

Slightly outside my main set of research interests, I have done some work on using statistical stylistics to identify and differentiate authors of anonymous historical texts, such as the Icelandic Family Sagas. Outside academia, I write poetry, play the English concertina, and do a lot of cooking and baking.