Professorial Fellow in Romance Languages

Martin Maiden

  • I am Professor of the Romance Languages in the Faculty of Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics.

  • I am interested in the history and structure of all the Romance languages, with a particular focus on Italian, Italo-Romance dialects, and Romanian.

  • I am particularly concerned with the problem of how complex morphological irregularities (e.g., ‘irregular verbs’) unexpectedly survive and spread in languages over time.

  • I am currently leading a research project on ‘Istro-Romanian’, a severely endangered Romance language.

Martin Maiden


I teach Romance linguistics and morphological theory, mainly but not exclusively to graduate students, in the Faculty of Linguistics, Philology, and Phonetics and in the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages.


My research explores the historical evolution of all the Romance languages (i.e., the languages historically descended from Latin). I focus principally on ‘eastern’ Romance languages, including Italian and Italo-Romance dialects, Romanian, and the now extinct and little-known Dalmatian language. I believe strongly that the ‘Romance languages’ (in fact, hundreds of structurally different linguistic varieties, most of them little-known and some of them moribund or extinct) offer a unique body of historical and comparative data which, if interpreted with the utmost care and respect for the data, can offer fundamental insights into the mechanisms of linguistic change.

Much of my work has been concerned with the historical phonology and morphology of the Romance languages, and in particular with the emergence and unexpected survival of morphological irregularities, especially within the verb system. I am interested in understanding why systematic patterns of irregularity which have lost their original, usually phonological, causation and no longer ‘make sense’ – in that they have no motivation outside the morphological system itself—are able to persist through time. I have argued that such cases throw crucial light on the theoretical notion of the ‘morphome’, as developed by the Canadian linguist Mark Aronoff.

You can find out more about my work here.

Selected Publications

(edited with J. C. Smith and A. Ledgeway) The Cambridge History of the Romance Languages. I Structures. II Contexts (Cambridge: CUP, 2011 and 2013)

‘Two suppletive adjectives in Megleno-Romanian’, Revue romane 49 (2014), 32-51

2016. ‘Italo-Romance metaphony and the Tuscan diphthongs’, Transactions of the Philological Society 114 (2016), 198-232

‘The Romanian alternating gender in diachrony and synchrony’. Folia Linguistica Historica 37 (2016), 111-44

(edited with A. Ledgeway) The Oxford Guide to the Romance Languages (Oxford: OUP, 2016)

The Romance Verb. Morphomic Structures and Diachrony (Oxford: OUP, 2018)

Modern Languages and Linguistics
Professor Maiden

The formidable body of comparative and historical data available to Romance linguists has a special capacity to enhance our understanding of general linguistics.