Dr Diane Nelson

Dr Diane Nelson


I joined the University of Leeds in 1996 as a Lecturer in Linguistics before becoming Senior Lecturer in 2008. 





  • MA Programmes Manager
  • School Promotions Advisor

Research interests

I am involved in several ongoing collaborative research projects. These include work on Uralic syntax: I have worked on Finnish and Saami (with Ida Toivonen) and am currently working on Meadow Mari (with Elena Vedernikova and Jeremy Bradley) as part of the Uralic Syntax project; projects with Virve Vihman at the University of Tartu looking at the relationship between animacy, language and cognition in children's narratives and emergent grammars (with Simon Kirby at Edinburgh University); projects with Vesna Stojanovik at the University of Reading investigating the verbal and nonverbal abilities of children with William's Syndrome and standardised testing for grammar in individuals with language impairments and and domain-general learning difficulties; I have also worked with Melinda Whong on a study investigating factors conditioning individual variation in L1 syntactic competence and performance. In the past I have studied and/or worked on Icelandic, Mongolian, and Turkish. I also am a member of the Kartvelian the Language and Nature Language@Leeds satellites.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD (Linguistics), University of Edinburgh 1996
  • BA (Ancient) History, Columbia University 1990

Professional memberships

  • Linguistics Association of Great Britain

Student education

I am passionate about teaching and I love bringing my own enthusiasm about linguistics to my students. In most years I teach theoretical syntax at undergraduate and/or postgraduate level. I also normally teach research methods at MA level, and a strand on the level 1 cornerstone in Morphology. The most unique topic I teach is through a module called Life Cycle of Languages, which takes an interdisciplinary approach to the natural history of language, from its evolutionary origins, through the huge diversity of languages in the world, to the factors leading to the crisis in linguistic diversity which is arguably linked with a global reduction of biological and cultural diversity. 

Research groups and institutes

  • Formal Linguistics
  • Language documentation
  • Centre for Endangered Languages, Cultures and Ecosystems

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>