Suzanne Romaine

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Suzanne Romaine (born 1951) is an American linguist known for work on historical linguistics and sociolinguistics. From 1984 to 2014 she was Merton Professor of English language at the University of Oxford.[1]

Background and career[edit]

Romaine was born in Massachusetts in 1951, and received an A.B. magna cum laude in German & Linguistics in 1973 from Bryn Mawr College; she then received a masters in Phonetics & Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland in 1975) and a Ph.D in Linguistics at the University of Birmingham in 1981.[2][3]

Since 1984 she has been Merton Professor of English Language at the University of Oxford.[3][4][5] In 1998 she was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Tromsø in Norway, and in 1999 she was awarded one from Uppsala University in Sweden.[6] She is a member of the Finnish Academy of Sciences from 2010 on.[7]


Romaine's research has focused primarily on historical linguistics and sociolinguistics, especially problems of societal multilingualism, linguistic diversity, language change, language acquisition, and language contact. Other areas of interest include corpus linguistics, language and gender, literacy, and bilingual/immersion education. She has conducted fieldwork on the language of working class schoolchildren in Scotland. on patterns of bilingualism and language loss among Punjabi speakers in England, in Papua New Guinea on the language of rural and urban schoolchildren, and also in Hawaii.

Her 1982 monograph Socio-historical Linguistics; Its Status and Methodology, correlates linguistic variation with external factors as found in historical data, and is regarded as beginning, or laying the foundation for, the field of sociohistorical linguistics as a sub-discipline.[8][9]


  • Socio-historical Linguistics; Its Status and Methodology Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982
  • The Language of Children and Adolescents; The acquisition of communicative competence Oxford: Blackwell, 1984
  • Pidgin and Creole Languages London: Longman, 1988
  • Bilingualism Oxford: Blackwell, 1989. Second revised edition 1995. Nominated for the British Association for Applied Linguistics Book of the Year.
  • Language, Education and Development; Urban and Rural Tok Pisin in Papua New Guinea Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992
  • Language in Society. An Introduction to Sociolinguistics Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994. Second revised edition 2000.
  • Communicating Gender Mahwah,NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1999
  • (with Daniel Nettle) Vanishing Voices; The Extinction of the World's Languages New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. (Winner of the British Association for Applied Linguistics Book of the Year Prize 2001.[10]


  1. ^ "Prof Suzanne Romaine authorised biography". Debrett's. Debrett's. Archived from the original on 6 January 2015. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  2. ^ "The Times University Results Service". The Times. 15 July 1981. p. 17. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  3. ^ a b "ROMAINE, Prof. Suzanne". Who's Who 2013. A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. 2013; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2012 ; online edn, Nov 2012. Retrieved 10 July 2013. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  4. ^ "University news". The Times. 8 February 1984. p. 14. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  5. ^ Suzanne Romaine, ed. (1998). The Cambridge History of the English Language, Volume 4. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 799. ISBN 978-0-521-26477-8.
  6. ^ Li Wei, Vivian Cook, ed. (2009). Contemporary Applied Linguistics Volume 2. London & New York: Continuum International Publishing Group. p. ix. ISBN 978-1-4411-6960-0.
  7. ^ Uudet jäsenet 2010, Suomalainen tiedeakatemia
  8. ^ Curzan, Anne. "Historical corpus linguistics and evidence of language change" in: Lüdeling, Anke and Merja Kytö, eds. Corpus Linguistics Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2009; p. 1097
  9. ^ Nervalainen, Terttu. "Historical Sociolinguitics and Language Change" in: van Kemenade, Ans and Bettelou Los, eds. The Handbook of the History of English Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2009; p. 558
  10. ^ "BAAL Book Prize 2001" (PDF). British Association for Applied Linguistics. Retrieved 10 July 2013.

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