About Jesus College/Our community/ People
Professor David Willis

Roles and subjects

Professor of Celtic

Post nomials

MA, MPhil., DPhil.



Academic Background

MA Oxford (Russian and German) (1991)

MPhil. Oxford (General Linguistics) (1993)

DPhil. Oxford on word order in the history of Welsh (1996)

Mary Somerville Junior Research Fellow (Somerville College, Oxford) (1994–97)

British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Jesus College, Oxford) (1997–98)

Lecturer at the University of Manchester (1998–2000)

Lecturer, senior lecturer and reader at the University of Cambridge and fellow of Selwyn College (2000–2020)

Currently an associate editor of Language, journal of the Linguistic Society of America and a member of the Council of the Philological Society. I have been a member of the editorial board of Journal of LinguisticsLinguistic VariationJournal of Historical Syntax and Journal of Celtic Linguistics. I have also been honorary secretary and membership secretary of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain.

Undergraduate Teaching

Celtic languages and linguistics

Graduate Teaching

Celtic languages and linguistics

Research Interests

I specialise in historical linguistics and in theoretical and dialect syntax, working primarily on material from Celtic languages. I am interested in the mechanisms of syntactic variation and change, in syntactic reconstruction, and in the use of electronic corpora in historical linguistics. My previous research projects include the Historical Corpus of the Welsh Language, the Syntactic Atlas of Welsh Dialects, the History of Negation in the Languages of European and the Mediterranean, and I have most recently begun a project to map dialect variation using social-media data.


Faculty of Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics