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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Sara Natalia Cardullo

College: St John's College               


Supervisor: Prof Adam Ledgeway   

Research Topic: Morphosyntactic Microvariation in the Aeolian Dialects

About Me

Sara studies comparative Romance linguistics with a focus on Italo-Romance varieties, and her primary interest lies in morpho-syntactic variation arising from endogenous and contact-induced language change. Her PhD project consists in the documentation and analysis of key morpho-syntactic phenomena in the dialect of the Eolian islands (Sicily), including the distribution of past tense forms (passato prossimo vs. passato remoto), the distribution of auxiliaries and agreement of past participles in the use of the compound past (passato prossimo), the use of possessives with kinship terms, finite and non-finite complementation, and pseudo-coordination. Beyond her curiosity of the extent of dialect microvariation between the islands, the selection of these particular topics is driven by her deep-seated interest in the nature of the typological and genealogical relationship of the Eolian dialect to the major dialect groups of Southern Italy (the upper southern Italian dialects vs. the extreme southern Italian dialects).

This research is a continuation of Sara’s MA project at the Università di Pisa (Italy), in which she focused on finite complementation in the Eolian dialects of Salina and Stromboli as a pilot study. In Pisa she studied Theoretical and Applied Linguistics (2019, cum laude), and towards the end of her degree she had the opportunity of participating as an intern in the ERC-funded research project “Microcontact. Language Variation and Change from the Italian heritage perspective” at the Universiteit Utrecht (Netherlands). Before this, Sara received her BA degree at the University of California, Berkeley (2014, cum laude) where she studied Psychology and minored in Applied Language Studies. She first pursued her interests in Italian linguistics and dialectology as a Fulbright scholar conducting sociolinguistic research on southern Italian dialects at the Università di Messina (Italy) (2016-2017).       



Cambridge International Scholarship (2019-2023)

AHRC DTP Studentship (2019-2023)

Fulbright Student Program (2016-2017)



Sara has had experience both as a supervisor and a lecturer since beginning her PhD at the University of Cambridge. She has either supervised in the past or is currently supervising students for the following paper: 

  • IT1/ITA3 “Introduction to Italian Linguistics” (2020, 2021)
  • IT2 “Structures and Varieties of Italian” (2019-20, 2021-22)
  • CS1 “The Romance Languages” (2020, 2020-21, 2021-22)

She has lectured for the following paper:

  • IT1/ITA3 “Texts and Contexts”/“Use of Italian” (fifth module): “Introduction to Italian Linguistics” (2021, 2022)
  • IT2 “Structures and Varieties of Italian” (2021)

Sara has also had experience as a tutor for the phonetics module of the course “Linguistica generale” at the University of Messina (2016-2017).


Conference papers and talks

2021, La distribuzione dei tempi del passato in eoliano. Uno sguardo comparativo, paper presented at “Frontiere del mutamento linguistico” University of Messina and the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia seminars, online, 3 Dec 2021.

2021, Reconsidering Eoliano’s geolinguistic position: what its complementation system tells us, paper presented at “15th Cambridge Italian Dialect Syntax-Morphology Meeting”, Helsinki (online), 8-10 Sept 2021.

2021, with K. Groothuis, Revisiting syntactic microvariation and diachrony in USID dual complementiser systems, paper presented at “15th Cambridge Italian Dialect Syntax-Morphology Meeting”, Helsinki (online), 8-10 Sept 2021.

2020, Contextualizing the Eolian Dual Complementizer System, paper presented at “48th Cambridge Romance Linguistics Seminar”, Cambridge, 3-4 Jan 2020.

2019, Split Complementation in the Dialect of the Eolian Islands, paper presented at “Third Bucharest Workshop on Formal Approaches to Romance Microvariation”, Bucharest, 22-23 Nov 2019.

2017, Il dialetto dei giovani tra proverbi e lessico, paper presented at “Dialectology and Historical Linguistics Summer Course”, Bellinzona, 28 Aug-2 Sept 2017.



2021, “Dual Complementation in the Dialect of the Eolian Islands”, in Revue Roumaine de Linguistique, LXVI, 2–3, 247–263.


Other activities and roles

She co-organizes the weekly “Romance Linguistics Circle” seminars held during term time.