Department of Linguistics

Dr Nathan W. Hill

Key information

Department of Linguistics Reader in Tibetan and Historical Linguistics Reader in Tibetan and Historical Linguistics Convenor, Tibetan Studies Group Centre of Buddhist Studies Member
Department of Linguistics
AB, AM, PhD (Harvard)
Russell Square: College Buildings
Email address
Telephone number
+44 (0)20 7898 4512
Support hours
On leave until 2022


Nathan W. Hill was educated at the Catlin Gabel School and Harvard University. He has also studied for shorter periods in France, Nepal, Tibet and Japan. He came to SOAS in 2008 after teaching at Harvard University and Universität Tübingen. At SOAS he teaches courses in historical linguistics and well as Tibetan language and history. He convenes Tibetan Studies at SOAS. Nathan is able to supervise PhD projects on Tibetan literature and history in the Department of China & Inner Asia, as well as PhD projects on historical, descriptive and corpus linguistics, in particular with reference to Tibetan or other Tibeto-Burman/Sino-Tibetan languages, in the Department of Linguistics.

Research interests

Nathan W. Hill's research focuses on Tibetan literature and Tibeto-Burman/Sino-Tibetan historical linguistics. In particular he has published on Old Tibetan descriptive linguistics, Tibetan corpus linguistics, Tibeto-Burman reconstruction and comparative linguistics, and the typology of evidential systems. 

Current research

Nathan W. Hill is currently one of three principal investigators on Beyond Boundaries: Religion, Region, Language and the State, a six-year international research collaboration jointly led by SOAS, the British Museum, and the British Library, funded by the European Research Council. He was co-investigator on Tibetan in Digital Communication: Corpus Linguistics and Lexicography (2012-2015), a research project led by principal investigator Dr Ulrich Pagel (Department of Religions and Philosophies) and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Conference organisation

In addition to convening Tibetan Studies at SOAS, Nathan W. Hill organises the ERC-funded Asia Beyond Boundaries workshops. He has also organised the Circle of Tibetan and Himalayan Studies lecture series (2010-2015) as well as several conferences:

Editorial roles
  • Managing editor, Journal of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society (http://...jseals), (2016-).
  • Editorial board member, Language Documentation and Description (http://...ldd), (2016-).
  • Editorial board member, Central Asiatic Journal (http://...caj), (2013-).
  • Editorial board member, Himalaya (http://...himalaya), (2013-).
  • Editorial board member, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (http://...bsoas), (2012-2018).
  • Member, International Advisory Board for The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Centre for Buddhist Art and Conservation (http://...conservation) at The Courtauld Institute of Art (2012-2016).
  • Editorial board member, Old Tibetan Documents Online (, (2006-).

PhD Supervision

Name Title
Jon Archer Information Structure in Muwé-ke, Nepal

Albert Badosa Roldós
Mr Tsering Samdrup Cairangsanzhou Expressing Politeness in Old Tibetan: Investigation based on three Dunhuang Tibetan texts
Philippe Antoine Martinez


Contact Nathan W.