Research Interests

My research interests include the phonology and morphology of Proto-Indo-European and the Indo-European languages, especially the Italic and Celtic language families; writing systems used for those languages; the language of Latin literature.

You can hear me talking about my research on Oscan inscriptions in the Greek alphabet here (along with talks from colleagues in the Greek in Italy project).

If you would like a copy of one of my articles which is not uploaded here, please send me an email.


2023. Orthographic Traditions and the Sub-elite in the Roman Empire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
           You can download it for free

2016. Oscan in the Greek Alphabet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
          You can see a preview of the book online here
          You can buy the book

2012. The Reflexes of the Proto-Indo-European Laryngeals in Celtic. Leiden & Boston: Brill
          You can see a preview of the book online here
          You can buy the book at the
Brill website

Edited Volumes:

2020. James Clackson, Patrick James, Katherine McDonald, Livia Tagliapietra & Nicholas Zair. Migration, Mobility and Language Contact in and around the Ancient Mediterranean. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press


2023. Katherine McDonald & Nicholas Zair. Linguistic resistance to Rome: a re-appraisal of the epigraphic evidence. In Jas Elsner & Daniel Jolowicz (eds.), Articulating Resistance Under The Roman Empire, 29-48. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

2022. The root *h1aw- ‘perceive’ and Indo-European ‘bird’. In Melanie Malzahn, Hannes A. Fellner & Theresa-Susanna Illés (eds.), Zurück zur Wurzel. Struktur, Funktion und Semantik der Wurzel im Indogermanischen. Akten der 15. Fachtagung der Indogermanischen Gesellschaft vom 13. bis 16. September 2016 in Wien, 305-16. Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag

2022. Ranjan Sen & Nicholas Zair. Liquid polarity, positional contrast, and diachronic change: clear and dark /r/ in Latin. Diachronica 39, 409-48

2021. Word-final -s in Ennius’ Annales: a sociolinguistic approach. Journal of Latin Linguistics 20, 265-84

2021. An acute problem: glides, diphthongs and vowels in the Oscan alphabet. In Noemí Moncunill & Manuel Ramírez-Sánchez (eds.), Aprender la escritura, olvidar la escritura. Nuevas perspectivas sobre la historia de la escritura en el Occidente romano, 219-34. Vitoria: Universidad del Pais Vasco

2020. Rupert Thompson & Nicholas Zair. “Irrational lengthening” in Virgil. Mnemosyne 73, 577–608

2020. The Mamertini in Messina: mobility, migration and mercenaries. In James Clackson, Patrick James, Katherine McDonald, Livia Tagliapietra & Nicholas Zair (eds.), Migration, Mobility and Language Contact in and around the Ancient Mediterranean, 156-70. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

2019. Moreed Arbabzadah & Nicholas Zair. Notes on a British curse tablet from Red Hill, Ratcliffe-on-Soar (Nottinghamshire). Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 212, 172-9

2019. Reconstructed forms in the Roman writers on language. Language and History 62, 227-246

2018. On the relative sonority of PIE /m/. Indo-European Linguistics 6, 271-303

2018. Latin bardus and gurdus. Glotta 94, 311-18

2017. Katherine McDonald & Nicholas Zair. Changing script in a threatened language: reactions to Romanisation at Bantia in the first century BC. In Mari Jones & Damien Mooney (eds.), Creating Orthographies for Endangered Languages, 291-304. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

2017. The origins of -urC- for expected -orC- in Latin. Glotta 93, 255-89

2016. Vowel weakening in the Sabellic languages as language contact. Indogermanische Forschungen 121, 295-316

2015 [2013]. Latin glārea ‘gravel’. Historische Sprachforschung 126, 280-86

2015. Katherine McDonald, Livia Tagliapietra & Nicholas Zair. New readings of the multilingual Petelia curse tablet. Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 195, 157-64

2015. Old Irish gniid ‘makes, does’, Middle Welsh gweinydaf ‘serve’ and i-presents. Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie 62, 213-222

2014. The treatment(s) of *-u- after a coronal in Oscan: dialect variation and chronology. Indo-European Linguistics 2, 112-25

2014. The future perfect in Oscan and Umbrian, and the -perfect in South Picene. Transactions of the Philological Society 112, 367-85
          Summary: The Oscan and Umbrian future perfect morpheme /us/ is made up of an original perfect suffix *-- still attested in South Picene, to which was added the future morpheme *-s-
          If you have a subscription, you can read this article online here

2013 [2012]. Katherine McDonald & Nicholas Zair. Oscan ϝουρουστ and the Roccagloriosa law tablet. Incontri Linguistici 35, 31-45
          Summary: The Oscan word ϝουρουστ, found only in the bronze law tablet from Roccagloriosa, means 'will have found', and has cognates in Greek and Old Irish. This identification allows us
          to provide a plausible interpretation for the contents of part of the law code.

2013. Individualism in “Osco-Greek” orthography. In Esther-Miriam Wagner, Ben Outhwaite & Bettina Beinhoff (eds.), Scribes as Agents of Language Change, 217-26. Berlin: De Gruyter

2012. Reconstructing the Brittonic future/present subjunctive. Journal of Celtic Linguistics 14, 87-110
          Summary: The Breton future gives the best evidence for the British subjunctive paradigm, which can be derived with a suffix *-āse/o- with a minimum of analogical remodelling

2012 [2010/2011]. British *-āw- and *-āg-, and the Celtic words for ‘sun’. Die Sprache 49, 194-208

2012. Schrijver’s rules for British and Proto-Celtic *ow and *uw before a vowel. In Philomen Probert & Andreas Willi (eds.), Laws and Rules in Indo-European, 147-60. Oxford: Oxford University Press
          You can read this article online here
          You can buy the book at the
OUP website

2012. A new environment for laryngeal loss in Proto-Celtic. In Benedicte Nielsen Whitehead et al. (eds.), The Sound of Indo-European. Phonetics, Phonemics and Morphophonemics, 613-30
          Summary: Interconsonantal laryngeals were lost in Proto-Celtic before single stops. NB, a slightly different version of the argument presented here can now be found in my book (see above)
          You can read parts of this article online here

2011. PIE ‘bird’ and ‘egg’ after Schindler. Münchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft 65, 287-310
          Summary: The words for ‘bird’ and ‘egg’ in Indo-European should be reconstructed as *h2ew-i-s and *h2ōwy-o-m respectively

2011. OIr cuae, MW keu, MB queu ‘hollow’. Ériu 61, 165-8
          Summary: These words should be reconstructed as *kawyo- < *k´h3w-yo- rather than the usual assumption that they go back to *k´ow-yo-

2009. OIr. biid < *bhuH-ye/o- and ‘hiatus’ verbs. In Stephanie Jamison, Craig Melchert & Brent Vine (eds.), Proceedings of the 20th UCLA Indo-European Conference: Los Angeles 2008, 213-20. Bremen: Hempen Verlag
          Summary: Evidence from the Brittonic languages shows that Old Irish biid comes from *biye/o- < *bhuH-ye/o-, with loss of laryngeal before *-y-

2008. Sound change in Proto-Celtic: laryngeals before *w. In Miltiadis Kokkonidis (ed.), Proceedings of LingO 2007, 261-8. Oxford: Faculty of Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics, University of Oxford, 261-268
          NB, a slightly different version of the argument presented here can now be found in my book (see above)

2006. Dybo's Law: evidence from Old Irish. In Daniel Kölligan & Ranjan Sen (eds.), Oxford Working Papers in Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics 11, 215-26. Oxford
          NB, this article has now been superseded by the section on Dybo's Rule in my book (see above)


2018. Hansen, Bjarne Simmelkjaer Sandgaard et al. 2017. Etymology and the European Lexicon. Proceedings of the 14th Fachtagung der Indogermanischen Gesellschaft, 17-22 September 2012, Copenhagen. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press. Linguist List 29.454, January 26

2016. Murano, Francesca. 2013. Le Tabellae Defixionum Osche. Pisa: Fabrizio Serra. Journal of Roman Studies 106, 330

2016. Voyles, Joseph and Barrack, Charles. 2015. On Laryngealism: a Coursebook in the History of a Science. Lincom. Linguist List 27.1503, March 31

2015. Cooper, Adam. 2014. Reconciling Indo-European Syllabification. Leiden & Boston: Brill. Linguist List 26.3057, June 26

2013. Liesner, Malte. 2012. Arbeitsbuch zur Lateinischen Historischen Phonologie. Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag. Kratylos 58, 218-22

2013. Melchert, H. Craig (ed.). 2012. The Indo-European Verb. Proceedings of the Conference of the Society for Indo-European Studies, Los Angeles 13–15 September 2010. Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag. Kratylos 58, 129-37

2012. Dupraz, Emmanuel. 2012. Sabellian Demonstratives: Forms and Functions. Leiden & Boston: Brill. Linguist List 23.3105, July 11, 2012

2012. Jamison, Stephanie W., H. Craig Melchert & Brent Vine (eds.). 2010. Proceedings of the 21st Annual UCLA Indo-European Conference. Los Angeles October 30th and 31st, 2009. Bremen: Hempen Verlag. Kratylos 57, 78-83

2012. Meid, Wolfgang. 2009. Die Romanze von Froech und Findabair. Táin Bó Froích. 2nd edition. Innsbruck: Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft. Kratylos 57, 208-12

2011. Nedoma, Robert & David Stifter. 2010. *h2nr. Festschrift für Heiner Eichner. Wien: Harrassowitz. Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie 58, 293-7

2011. Meillet, Antoine. 2009. Aperçu d'une histoire de la langue grecque. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Linguist List 22.431, January 24, 2011

2008. Müller, Stefan. 2007. Zum Germanischen aus laryngaltheoretischer Sicht. Mit einer Einführung in die Grundlagen der Laryngaltheorie. Berlin; New York: Walter de Gruyter. Linguist List 19.1577, May 17, 2008

last updated June 2023