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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Dr Tam Blaxter

Research Fellow, Gonville & Caius
Co-Investigator, 'Investigating the diffusion of morphosyntactic innovations using social media' (ESRC)
Co-investigator, ‘Spatial theories of linguistic and cultural evolution’ (Royal Society)
Theoretical and Applied Linguistics
Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages
Contact details: 

Room TR25 (English Faculty Building)
Theoretical and Applied Linguistics
9 West Road
University of Cambridge​
Sidgwick Avenue
United Kingdom


Tam did her undergraduate degree in Linguistics at the University of Essex before going on to do the MPhil in General Linguistics and Comparative Philology at Oxford and PhD in Linguistics at Cambridge. Her work takes a variationist/quantitative approach to questions around language change, linguistic diffusion and geospatial variation in language use. Her PhD thesis was on contact, diffusion and change in medieval Norwegian, and in particular explored Peter Trudgill’s hypotheses about the effects of contact on simplicity/complexity in medieval North Germanic. She is continuing to work on language change in medieval Norwegian at present, examining interrelated changes in the genitive case and in the marking of possessive, and the loss of the nominative case. She has also worked on variation and change in Modern English using data from the English Dialects App, and in modern Bristol English using more traditional sociolinguistic methods. She has an interest in quantitative methods in linguistics, and has written on new regression models in sociolinguistics and on statistical approaches in historical dialectology. 

Teaching interests: 

History of English
Historical linguistic theory
Historical sociolinguistics
Germanic philology
Scandinavian linguistics

Research interests: 

Linguistic diffusion
Quantitative methods in linguistics
Historical sociolinguistics
Linguistic geography
History of Norwegian
Language complexity
Language and gender

Recent research projects: 

Investigating the diffusion of morphosyntactic innovations using social media (with David Willis, Deepthi Gopal and Adrian Leemann)
The social determinants of linguistic diffusion patterns
Spatial theories of linguistic and cultural evolution (with James Burridge and Bert Vaux)

Published works: