Department of Linguistics


Our department is focused on linguistic study in an unparalleled range of languages, many of which we are documenting for the first time. They include languages of Africa, the Near and Middle East, South Asia, South East Asia, Central Asia, Australia, the Pacific, and Siberia.

Our research interests cover a wide range of theoretical and applied aspects of linguistics, including syntax, phonology, semantics, sociolinguistics, historical linguistics, linguistic typology, multilingualism, lexicography, language pedagogy and translation studies.

Meet the academics.

Our Head of Department says...

The Department of Linguistics at SOAS was founded in 1932 as the first department of general linguistics in Great Britain. But we are not only the first: we are unique in this country, and perhaps internationally, because the variety of languages studied in our department is not comparable to any other linguistics department in the world.

Facts and figures

10th in UK

QS World University Rankings 2021

Our research

Our research strengths include:

  • The variety of studied languages and regional expertise
  • Wide-spread of complementary thematic expertise among staff, leading to the potential if original research synergies
  • Expertise in endangered languages and language documentation and description
  • In-depth study of the structure of African, Asian and Middle Eastern languages and the contexts in which they are used
  • Long and distinguished tradition in leading linguistic research
  • Easy access to excellent specialist library holdings, Endangered Languages Archive, and Linguistics Resources Room

In this section

  • Research

    Prominent Possessors

    Investigating the phenomenon of "prominent internal possessors" from a theoretical and cross-linguistic perspective.

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    Morphosyntactic variation in Bantu: Typology, contact and change

    Exploring linguistic similarities within a sample of Bantu languages.

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    Crossroads: Investigating the unexplored side of multilingualism

    Investigating multilingualism and language contact between three languages spoken at the “crossroads” – a group of neighbouring villages in the Casamance area of Senegal.

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    Engaged humanities in Europe: Capacity building for participatory research in linguistic-cultural heritage (ENGHUM)

    Implementing an innovative scientific strategy and capacity building at universities across Europe.

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    Arabic and contact-induced language change

    Improving our understanding of how and why languages tend to change when they come into contact, with a particular focus on Arabic.

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  • Events