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Dr Tamsin Blaxter

  • College positions:

    Research Fellow

  • Subject:


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


Research interests

Historical dialectology; spatial and social variation in language use; mechanisms of language change; linguistic diffusion; modelling language change; statistical methods in linguistics

My interests are in exploring the mechanisms of language change and of linguistic (and wider cultural) diffusion. Much of my work is united by an interest in new approaches to data collection which enable the acquisition of much larger and more spatially fine-grained datasets than previously possible. I also focus on statistical methods for dealing with linguistic datasets distributed in space and time.

Teaching interests

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


Recent and forthcoming publications

Blaxter, Tamsin. Diachronic dialectology: New methods and case studies in medieval Norwegian. Publications of the Philological Society. Forthcoming
Burridge, James & Blaxter, Tamsin. “Inferring the drivers of language change using spatial models.” Journal of Physics: Complexity. Forthcoming
Britain, David, Blaxter, Tamsin & Leemann, Adrian. “Retention and loss of traditional dialect in England: evidence from the English Dialects App.” In A. Thibault, M. Avanzi and A. Millour (eds.), New ways of analysing dialectal variation. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Forthcoming
Blaxter, Tamsin & Britain, David. 2021. “Hands off the metadata!: Comparing the use of explicit and background metadata in crowdsourced dialectology.” Linguistics Vanguard 7(s1). DOI: 10.1515/lingvan-2019-0029 January 2021
Burridge, James & Blaxter, Tamsin. 2020. “Using spatial patterns of English folk speech to infer the universality class of linguistic copying.” Physical Review Research 2(4):043053. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevResearch.2.043053. October 2020
Britain, David, Blaxter, Tamsin & Leemann, Adrian. 2020. “East Anglian English in the English Dialects App: Regional variation in East Anglian English based on evidence from a smartphone-based survey.” English Today 36(3):14-30. doi:10.1017/S0266078420000206 September 2020
Burridge, J., T. Blaxter & B. Vaux. “Evolutionary paths of language.” Europhysics Letters 128:28003. DOI: 10.1209/0295-5075/128/28003. January 2020
Blaxter, Tam & Trudgill, Peter. 2019. On case loss and svarabhakti vowels: the sociolinguistic typology and geolinguistics of simplification in North Germanic.” Journal of Linguistic Geography 7.1:1-13. April 2019
Blaxter, Tam, Beeching, Kate, Coates, Richard, Murphy, James & Robinson, Emily. 2019. “Each p[ɚ]son does it th[ɛː] way: Rhoticity variation and the community grammar.” Language Variation and Change 31.1:91-117. DOI: 10.1017/S0954394519000048

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.