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Professor Janet Watson FBA

The documentation and morpho-syntactic description of modern Arabic dialects and Modern South Arabian languages; theoretical phonology and morphology with reference to Arabic and Modern South Arabian
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About this Fellow

After studying Arabic & Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter, I moved to SOAS, London to study Linguistics and then completed a PhD on the phonology and morphology of Yemeni Arabic dialects. I have held academic posts at the Universities of Edinburgh, Durham and Salford prior to taking up the post of Leadership Chair for Languages at Leeds at the University of Leeds in 2013. I have also held visiting posts at the universities of Heidelberg (2003-04) and Oslo (2004-05). I am on the editorial boards of the Seminar of Arabian Studies and Journal of Semitic Studies, and a member of the advisory board of the Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes. My main research interests lie in the documentation of Modern South Arabian languages and modern Arabic dialects, with particular focus on theoretical phonological and morphological approaches to language varieties spoken within the south-western Arabian Peninsula. Since 2006, I have been documenting dialects of Mehri, one of six endangered Modern South Arabian languages spoken in the far south of the Arabian Peninsula. Since January 2013, I have been leading an international team to document the five Modern South Arabian languages spoken in mainland Yemen and Oman. Research on Modern South Arabian has been supported by a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship (2007-08), a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship (2010-11), and a Leverhulme Trust Project Grant (2013-2016). Between 2010 and 2012, I collaborated with colleagues on the geographical distribution, phonetics, and phonology of lateral emphatics in Saudi Arabian Arabic dialects, a project funded by the King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies in Saudi Arabia.



Current post

  • Leadership Chair for Language at Leeds, University of Leeds

Past Appointments

  • PDF, University of Durham, 1990 - 1992
  • Leadership Chair for Language at Leeds, School of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Leeds, 2013

British Academy Appointments

  • Member of Council, 2014 - 2017


The Phonology and Morphology of Arabic 2002, 2007

The Structure of Mehri 2012

Standard Arabic: An advanced course 1999

A syntax of San'ani Arabic 1993

Other Linguistics and Philology Fellows

Professor Bill Hardcastle

Theoretical and clinical phonetics and phonology, particularly experimental studies of speech production processes in typical and disordered speech

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