Professor Andreas Willi

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Academic Background

I studied Classics, Slavonic Languages and Literatures, and Historical-Comparative Linguistics at the Universities of Basel, Lausanne, and Fribourg in Switzerland and at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. After writing my doctoral thesis on sociolinguistic variation in Ancient Greek at the University of Oxford, I worked as an Oberassistent in Classics (Latin and Greek Philology) at the University of Basel, then became a member of the Swiss Institute at Rome, and finally moved back to Oxford in 2005 to take up the Diebold Chair in Comparative Philology which is shared between the Faculties of Classics and of Linguistics, Philology, and Phonetics. Since 2014 I have been editor of Glotta: Zeitschrift für griechische und lateinische Sprache.


Research Interests

I have worked extensively on sociolinguistic and dialectal variation in Ancient Greek, on language contact and the language-literature-culture interface in the ancient world, with a special focus on Sicily, and on Classical (Greek and Latin) literature and culture. In a major study on the history and prehistory of the Greek (and Indo-European) verbal system, I looked at the development of tense-aspect categories both from a formal (reconstructive) and a functional (philological) point of view. I have also published on the historical grammar and etymology of a range of other ancient languages, including Latin, Oscan, Umbrian, Etruscan, Old Irish, and Hittite.


Research Keywords

Historical-comparative grammar of Greek, Latin, and other Indo-European languages (phonology, morphology, syntax); epigraphic and literary dialectology of Ancient Greek; historical sociolinguistics; language contact in the ancient world; Greek, Latin, and Indo-European etymology; language and linguistic culture in antiquity (incl. history of grammatical thought, history of the alphabet); Greek and Roman literature and culture.


I am happy to supervise Master's and doctoral theses in the broad area of (Indo-European) Comparative Philology, and especially in Ancient Greek and Latin linguistics (both diachronic and synchronic); this includes theses that look at the interfaces between language and literature and language and cultural history.