Dr Diane Nelson

Fellow since

Dr Diane Nelson is a linguist at the University of Leeds. Originally from Boston, she studied at Columbia University and then the University of Edinburgh. She discovered linguistics when she read the foreword of her parents’ dictionary at the age of 12.

Dr Diane Nelson

About Diane Nelson

Dr Diane Nelson is a linguist at the University of Leeds. Originally from Boston, she studied at Columbia University and then the University of Edinburgh.

Her deep dive into linguistics started with her PhD research on the grammar of Finnish, a language with 16 cases. Over the years she has studied languages related to Finnish (Saami, Meadow Mari) and unrelated (Turkish, Georgian, Icelandic). There is no such thing as a “simple” language; Diane is passionate about trying to solve the puzzles that each language presents, to understand the complex and systematic ways each language forms words and sentences to express meaning.

More recently Diane has started to see language through the lens of natural history. She is interested in how languages originated, how they diversify into "family trees", and why so many are becoming endangered and extinct.

Her work includes collaboration with other researchers interested in the connections between language diversity and biodiversity through the Centre for Endangered Languages, Cultures and Ecosystems and the Leeds Extinction Studies DTP.

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