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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Dr Sheila Watts

Photo of Sheila Watts
University Associate Professor
Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages & Linguistics
Contact details: 
Telephone number: 
+44 (0)1223 335 816

Newnham College
Sidgwick Avenue
United Kingdom



Sheila Watts has been a lecturer in German at Cambridge and a Fellow of Newnham College since 1998.


Teaching interests: 

Sheila Watts teaches German and Germanic linguistics across all years of the MML Tripos. She co-ordinates the papers GE7, ‘German: A Linguistic Introduction’, and GE11 ‘History of German’ as well as contributing lectures on dictionaries and their role in defining German for the introductory GE1/GEA3 paper. In a collaboration with colleagues in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, Sheila Watts offers teaching on the older Germanic languages to students across the School via the ASNC paper 11 ‘Germanic Philology’. She supervises MPhil and PhD students in any area of German and Germanic linguistics.

Dr Watts welcomes inquiries from potential MPhil and PhD students with research interests relevant to her interests.


Research interests: 

Sheila Watts specializes in the historical linguistics of German and related languages. She has published on verb categories and on gender in Old Saxon and Old High German. A further interest is in the history of linguistic ideas about German, where she has published on  the grammarian Justus Georg Schottelius and the lexicographer Caspar Stieler.


Recent research projects: 

Since 2011 Sheila has been part of a project group with Anne Breitbarth (Ghent) and George Walkden (Manchester, now Konstanz) working to build a digital Corpus of Historical Low German (CHLG). This project has been supported by the Newton Trust, the British Academy and the Government of Flanders. From October 2017–2021 Sheila was a co-investigator on a project, funded by the Norwegian Research Foundation, exploring the Early Germanic Noun Phrase, working with colleagues from Oslo, Manchester, Wuppertal and Konstanz.

With David Willis (Theoretical and Applied Linguistics), Sheila recently ran three series of workshops on historical morphosyntax and Germanic corpora, supported by the DAAD Cambridge Research Hub for German Studies.


Published works: 

Continuity and Change in Grammar (= Linguistik Aktuell 159).  2010. Eds. Anne Breitbarth, Christopher Lucas, Sheila Watts and David Willis. Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: Benjamins.

Landmarks in the History of the German Language (= British and Irish Studies in German Language and Literature 52). 2009. Eds. Geraldine Horan, Nils Langer and Sheila Watts. Bern, etc.: Peter Lang.

Zur Verbmorphologie germanischer Sprachen. 2001. Eds. Sheila Watts, Jonathan West & Hans-Joachim Solms. (= Linguistische Arbeiten 446). Tübingen: Niemeyer.