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Philip Roberts

Centre for Linguistics and Philology
Walton Street
Oxford OX1 2HG
United Kingdom


I am a postdoctoral researcher in the faculty of linguistics, philology and phonetics at the University of Oxford, attached to the WORDS project (PI: Prof. Aditi Lahiri). If you’re so inclined, you can download my CV (as a PDF), or keep reading this page for the high points.


My work on the WORDS project consists mainly of implementing an automated speech recognition engine that is based on the Featurally Underspecified Lexicon model of distinctive phonological features.

Doctoral work

I completed the DPhil in Comparative Philology and General Linguistics here at Oxford in 2012. My work centred on applying Optimality-Theoretic analyses to the phonology of ancient languages, particularly Latin.

I consider myself equal parts theoretical phonologist (working mainly in OT, with a particular affection for Stratal OT) and Indo-European philologist/historical linguist. In my thesis, I explore the ways in which applying OT to Latin and the languages of pre-Roman Italy can enrich our understanding of both: ancient languages give us new data to check our proposed constraints against, and formalisms like OT can help us fill in the inevitable gaps in our understanding of the phonology of languages which are no longer spoken.

To help me be a properly rigorous scientist, I have developed a computational OT machine, including a fully elaborated theory of phonology, which I use to examine phenomena including:

For more on these topics, please see the files available for download.

I was co-supervised in these endeavours by Professors Aditi Lahiri and Andreas Willi.


For the last couple of years, I have assisted Prof. Lahiri in teaching the phonology unit for first-year graduate students taking the MPhil or MSt in Comparative Philology and General Linguistics. I will add lecture handouts and exercises here as they are given:

Handouts — Michaelmas Term 2014:

Handouts — Hilary Term 2014:

I also found it necessary to answer a student’s question at some length, and obtained her gracious permission to post my answer here for posterity.

I regularly teach classes to first-year undergrads for the Prelims Paper X: Grammatical Analysis, a course convened by Dr. Louise Mycock.


I got my B.A. (with first class honours) in Latin and Linguistics at the University of Manchester in 2007, then came to Oxford, where I took the M.Phil. (with distinction) in Comparative Philology and General Linguistics in 2009. I completed the DPhil as described above in 2012.



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