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Dr Theresa Biberauer 

Year started




Fellow Type

Lecturers, Professors and College Officers,

Theresa Biberauer is a Principal Research Associate in the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics and Associate Professor Extraordinary at her South African alma mater, Stellenbosch University. She did an M.Phil. in English and Applied Linguistics and a PhD in Theoretical Linguistics at the University of Cambridge (St John’s College), before embarking on a Junior Research Fellowship (Newnham) and a series of AHRC- and ERC-funded research projects. Her doctoral research focused on some of the structural peculiarities of Afrikaans, a language which is often (incorrectly) described as “the youngest language in the world” and which is also typically (again, incorrectly) thought to be a simplified clone of its European parent, Dutch.

Her current research on the ERC-funded research project “Rethinking Comparative Syntax” (see is concerned with the very large question of what the building blocks of human language are and the extent to which it is possible to identify universals in this domain. More specifically, the project aims to establish whether detailed consideration of the findings of the past 50-60 years of typological and generative (Chomskyan) research in the light of the current “biolinguistic programme” can lead to an explicit theory of why human languages take the forms they do.

Theresa is also Churchill’s Director of Studies in Linguistics, and very committed to teaching, supervision and academic outreach.

Rethinking Comparative Syntax research project

Department profile

College Positions

Director of Studies - Linguistics

01 October 2012 – Present