Dr Ranjan Sen

Deputy Head of the School of English

Room 2.23
Jessop West
1 Upper Hanover Street
S3 7RA

Personal website: ranjansen.com


My main research interest is sound change, and I focus particularly on theories of diachronic phonology and the interface of phonetics and phonology. In addition to phonological theory and historical linguistics, I have research and teaching experience in experimental phonetics, psycholinguistics, and language acquisition.

I completed my doctorate (DPhil) in Comparative Philology and General Linguistics at the University of Oxford in December 2009. My thesis, 'Syllable and Segment in Latin', focused upon Latin phonology and diachronic explanation in phonological theory, and a further developed version has been published as a monograph by Oxford University Press in the series Oxford Studies in Diachronic and Historical Linguistics.

Prior to the doctorate, I was awarded the MPhil in General Linguistics and Comparative Philology, and the BA Hons/MA in Literae Humaniores (Classics), both at the University of Oxford.

After the DPhil, I was a Teaching Fellow at University College London in 2009-10, and a Research Associate and Visiting Lecturer at the University of Oxford in 2010, before joining the School of English in September 2010.


My primary research interest lies in developing techniques to reconstruct and account for phonological change over time, and investigating to what extent synchronic structure plays a role in diachronic phonology.

One aim is to improve methods used to access fine-grained phonetic evidence from dead languages, to allow a better evaluation of theories of change grounded in phonetics. We can then better address the much-debated question of whether phonetics and analogical pressures alone drive sound change, or if structural constraints play a role.

My current research focuses on three areas:

  1. Investigating the role played by prosodic structure in sound change, examining the roles of syllable and foot structure in Latin and other languages
  2. Working in collaboration with Professor Joan Beal (University of Sheffield) and Dr Nura Yáñez-Bouza (University of Manchester) to construct a database of eighteenth-century English phonology from contemporary sources, (e.g. pronouncing dictionaries), in order to address problems in English phonology, both historical and contemporary
  3. Working in collaboration with the Oxford Phonetics Laboratory to investigate theories of speech production and phonological representation in the mind, from the evidence of reading aloud non-words, examining questions of both phonological and psycholinguistic significance.


I teach the undergraduate level 2 courses ELL232 Phonology and ELL231 Issues in Language Change, and the level 3 course EGH310 Psychology of Language. At Master’s level, I teach a course in Reconstructing Phonological Change; the flexibility of the course provides scope for a student to focus on any topic which coincides with my interests.

I have previously taught courses on Advanced Phonological Theory, Phonetics (articulatory and acoustic), Phonological Acquisition and First Language Acquisition, Syntax and Morphology, and Latin Historical Linguistics.


I would welcome expressions of interest in MA and PhD topics in phonology, particularly in historical or theoretical phonology, or in comparative philology. If you are thinking of doing an MA or PhD in any of these areas, feel free to email me to discuss possible supervision, projects, or funding.

I have previously supervised MA theses in Phonology, in subjects ranging from feature theory and tonal phenomena to first- and second-language speech production, as they relate to phonological theory.

I am the second supervisor for PhD dissertations on testing the Prosodic Transfer Hypothesis regarding the realisation of English inflectional markers by Bengali speakers (Jacqueline Ingham), and the influence of audio-visual media on the phonetic productions of Chinese learners of English (Chen Zhang).

Administrative positions

I am the Director of Impact for the School of English, focusing on the wide-ranging effects of the research conducted by the School outside the academic community, e.g. through public exhibitions, media appearances, and non-academic journals and magazines. From September 2015, I will be the Director of English Language and Linguistics in the School of English.


  • Sen, Ranjan (2015). Syllable and Segment in Latin. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Oxford Studies in Diachronic and Historical Linguistics 16). 
  • Beal, Joan Ranjan Sen, Nuria Yáñez-Bouza & Christine Wallis (forthcoming 2015). The Eighteenth-Century English Phonology Database. Hosted by the Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield.

The Eighteenth-Century English Phonology Database (ECEP) is an online database designed for the study of eighteenth-century English phonology, which will allow users to investigate the social, regional and lexical distribution of phonological variants in eighteenth-century English. It will serve as a source bank for quantitative and qualitative studies, thereby meeting the demands of the growing research community in historical phonology and dialectology in particular, and in Late Modern English in general.

Articles and chapters
  • Beal, Joan & Ranjan Sen (2014). ‘Towards a corpus of eighteenth-century English phonology’, in Kristin Davidse, Caroline Gentens, Ditte Kimps & Lieven Vandelanotte (eds), Recent Advances in Corpus Linguistics: Developing and Exploiting Corpora. Amsterdam: Brill-Rodopi, 31-54.
  • Sen, Ranjan (2012). ‘Reconstructing phonological change: duration and syllable structure in Latin vowel reduction’. Phonology 29(3): 465-504. 
  • Sen, Ranjan (2012). ‘Exon’s Law and the Latin syncopes’, in Philomen Probert & Andreas Willi (eds.), Laws and Rules in Indo-European, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 205-226.
  • Sen, Ranjan (2011). ‘Diachronic phonotactic development in Latin: the work of syllable structure or linear sequence?’, in Charles Cairns & Eric Raimy (eds.), Handbook of the Syllable, Brill's Handbooks in Linguistics 1. Leiden, Boston: Brill, 417-441.
  • Sen, Ranjan (2006). ‘Vowel-weakening before muta cum liquida sequences in Latin: a problem of syllabification?’, Oxford University Working Papers in Linguistics, Philology & Phonetics 11: 143-61.
  • (with Daniel Kölligan), Oxford University Working Papers in Linguistics, Philology & Phonetics, Volume 11: Comparative Philology. (2006). 

Please see my personal website (ranjansen.com) for pdfs of publications, and further information including supporting material for the monograph.


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Research themes