Ramsammy in permanent post at Edinburgh!

Posted on June 26, 2013 by


Manchet is delighted to announce that alumnus and research associate Michael Ramsammy has just been appointed to a permanent lectureship in the Department of Linguistics and English Language of the University of Edinburgh.

After taking a BA in German and Hispanic studies at King’s College London, Michael came to Manchester in 2005 to study for an MA in Linguistics, in which he displayed his talent for phonology with a dissertation entitled Germanic syllabification: the consequences and complications of Sievers’ Law. After a short break, Michael returned to Manchester in 2007 to pursue an AHRC-funded doctorate on The realisation of coda nasals in Spanish, supervised by Ricardo Bermúdez-Otero, initially with Martin Barry, and later with Yuni Kim. Michael defended his dissertation on 19 December 2011 before a distinguished panel comprising Professor Francis Nolan (Cambridge) and Professor Aditi Lahiri (Oxford) as external members.

Although Spanish nasal place neutralization had long been the subject of intense study, and was in fact a staple of phonological primers, Michael’s dissertation revolutionized our understanding of this phenomenon. On the basis of exquisitely detailed acoustic and electropalatographic analyses, Michael showed that Spanish word-medial preconsonantal nasals do not undergo assimilation, as had long been assumed, but are rather phonetically underspecified for place. In contrast, word-final nasals in so-called velarizing dialects are not placeless, as sometimes claimed, but bear a default [DORSAL] feature. These discoveries turn out to have profound implications for the notion of markedness, for the phonology-phonetics and morphology-phonology interfaces, and for phonological change. Michael has pursued these implications in several publications, including a chapter in Romance Linguistics 2010 and an article in Journal of Linguistics.

Since completing his dissertation, Michael has collaborated as research associate in two sociolinguistic projects led by Erik Schleef: one on age and indexicality, and another on region and perception. The outputs include a recent co-authored article in English Language and Linguistics. Michael’s work continues to receive other salient marks of esteem: he has won the Eugénie Henderson Prize of the British Association of Academic Phoneticians, and he has recently received a commission from Language and Linguistics Compass to write an article on dialectal microtypologies and the life cycle of phonological processes.

At Edinburgh, Michael will be joining a department in which Manchester graduates are already well represented: Lecturer Linda van Bergen did her PhD at Manchester under David Denison‘s supervision, and Senior Lecturer Graeme Trousdale took a BA in English Language and Literature from Manchester. Interestingly, Michael’s former supervisor Ricardo Bermúdez-Otero and his new colleague Graeme Trousdale were undergraduate classmates at Manchester in 1992-1993 and recently co-authored this piece. It’s a small world…

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