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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages


Valentina Colasanti



St John's



Prof. Adam Ledgeway

About me:

Following completion of my BA in Philology and Linguistics (Indo-European linguistics) and my MA in Linguistics (Historical linguistics and Italian dialectology) at 'Sapienza' University of Rome, I obtained my M.Phil. in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at the University of Cambridge, before starting my Ph.D. in 2015. My main research interests include comparative diachronic and synchronic morpho-syntax of the Romance languages (especially Italo-Romance varieties), syntactic theory and historical linguistics. I am working on topics such as diachronic and synchronic complementation, complementiser systems, matrix complementation, illocutionary force, clausal-typing, auxiliary selection and split intransitivity, past participle agreement, modality, factivity and differential object marking. I am also particularly interested in parametric variation, language documentation, fieldwork methodologies and data elicitation.

My research:

My doctoral thesis is focused on the comparative syntax of a group of southern Italian dialects, the southern Lazio dialects, bringing together traditional linguistic scholarship with the more recent generative syntactic theory. The main goal of my Ph.D. thesis is collecting new unexplored data demonstrating the central role which the still under-utilised Italo-Romance testing ground plays in: (i) understanding and challenging traditional linguistic assumptions; (ii) offering new insights and perspectives on language structure, variation and diachronic change. Specifically, I propose a data-driven maximally comparative approach to Italo-Romance micro-variation through key ideas of contemporary theoretical linguistics.


IT1: Texts and Contexts

IT2: Structures and Varieties of Italian

IT10: The Language of Italy

CS1: The Romance languages

Li2: Structures and Meanings (Michaelmas Term)

Li11: Historical linguistics

Conference papers

‘Feature reassignment and microparametric change in Italo-Romance’, paper presented at the XLV Romance Linguistics Seminar, Trinity Hall College, University of Cambridge, UK, 5-6 January 2017. 

‘(Beyond) Force, Mood and Modality: matrix complementisers in Italian dialects’, paper presented at the 9th Brussels Conference on Generative Linguistics (BCGL 9): Phase Theory, University of Brussels, Belgium, 13-14 December 2016 (with Giuseppina Silvestri).

‘Methodological issues in collecting data. A data-driven investigation of microvariation in Southern Lazio’, paper presented at Collecting data on microvariation in Romance. Methodological issues, University of Bucharest, Romania, 26 November 2016.

‘What has and hasn’t changed? Parametric change and morphosyntactic exaptation in Romance’, paper presented at Formal Approaches to Romance Microvariation Workshop (FARM), University of Bucharest, Romania, 25-26 November 2016.

‘On Triple Complementation in Southern Italian Dialects’, paper presented at Structure, Use and Meaning (SUM), University of Brașov, Romania, 21-24 September 2016  

‘La doppia serie di complementatori nei dialetti del Lazio Meridionale: un approccio microparametrico’, paper presented at XXVIII Congresso Internazionale di Linguistica e Filologia Romanza, ‘Sapienza’ University of Rome, Italy, 18-23 July 2016   

‘On Factivity: speculations on the split-CP in Upper-Southern Italian Dialects’, paper presented at the 1st SynCart Workshop, University of Geneva & University of Siena, Chiusi, Italy, 11-15 July 2016  

‘(Beyond) Force, Mood and Modality: matrix complementisers in upper-Southern Italian dialects’, paper presented at the XI Cambridge Italian Dialect Syntax-Morphology, University of Vienna, Austria, 4-6 July 2016 (with Giuseppina Silvestri)  

‘Dual complementiser systems in Southern Lazio dialects: a microparametric approach’, paper presented at the XLIV Romance Linguistics Seminar, Trinity Hall College, University of Cambridge, UK, 3-5 January 2016.    

‘Dual complementiser systems in Southern Lazio dialects’, paper presented at the XV International Conference of the Department of Linguistics on Current issues in Linguistic Variation, University of Bucharest, Romania, 27-28 November 2015.  

Other activities

Treasurer of The Cambridge Linguistic Society.