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Department of Linguistics

Thomas Ritchie


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Thomas Ritchie
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Thesis title:
Valency changing operations in Chimane
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PhD Research

My research deals with valency changing operations in Chimane, with a particular focus on a set of constructions which optionally mark the relationship between the subject and possessor internal to a possessive object NP. My thesis examines these constructions with regard to the information structure roles of the possessor and possessee. In order to gather primary data for the thesis, I undertook two fieldtrips to Bolivia in 2012 and 2013 and will return in 2014 for a third trip.


Sandy graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2008 with an MA Honours degree in Italian and Linguistics. After a stint teaching English in China and Italy, he returned to the UK in 2010 to take the MA in Language Documentation and Description at SOAS. His dissertation focused on patterns of agreement in Chimane, a vulnerable near-isolate language spoken in Amazonian Bolivia. In September 2011 he enrolled for the PhD in Field Linguistics.

Sandy is also Co-Founder and Co-Director of Language Landscape, a tool for mapping where languages are spoken around the world. His primary role in the project is to direct development of the website. The LL team have won funding for the project from the SOAS Alumni and Friends Fund, UnLtd and Google Earth Outreach, which they have used to develop the site, establish a student society at SOAS and run an outreach project in Bow School in east London.

From June 2011 to September 2012, Sandy worked in the Endangered Languages Archive where his primary role was to curate data and metadata arising from documentation projects on endangered languages. During his time at ELAR, he also worked with Anvita Abbi on the CD-ROM for the Great Andamanese dictionary. Sandy's other interests include language acquisition, cognitive approaches to language, information structure, discourse analysis, Romance languages, Chinese, Scots, speculative fiction and filmmaking.

Grants and awards

  • Chimane areal documentation, description and materials development.  Endangered Languages Documentation Programme Small Grant SG0272, £9,040. June 2013.
  • [with Language Landscape team and Mark Turin, World Oral Literature Project] Language Landscape: an extensible model for mapping language dynamics. Google Earth Outreach Developer Grant TFR12-02573, £12,087. October 2012.
  • Valency changing operations in Chimane. Arts and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Studentship AH/J500410/1, £58,366. August 2011.

PhD Conferences

  • Possessor coreference marking and agreement in Chimane. Language Documentation and Linguistic Theory 4, SOAS, London. 7 December 2013.
  • [with Goodchild, S. & Dohle, E.] Apps, maps and mobile: tech for real community-led language documentation. International Conference on Endangered Languages in Europe, CIDLeS, Portugal. 17 October 2013.
  • Posesión y relaciones gramaticales en chimane. VII Congress of the Bolivian Studies Association, Sucre, Bolivia. 31 July 2013.
  • [presented on Ritchie's behalf by Colleen Patton] Serialising Chimane: an experiment in online mapping and dissemination of documentary materials. 3rd International Conference on Language Documentation & Conservation, University of Hawaii. 1 March 2013.
  • [with Goodchild, S. & Ritchie, G]. Language Landscape: mapping the dynamics of language diversity. Charting Vanishing Voices: a Collaborative Workshop to Map Endangered Oral Cultures, CRASSH, University of Cambridge. 30 June 2012.