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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge
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    Professor Wendy Ayres- Bennett

    01223 762243 or 01223 760800
    Murray Edwards College
    CB3 0DF

    Emeritus Fellow in Linguistics


    Emeritus fellow

    Murray Edwards offers an intellectually vibrant but warm and supportive community which brings out the best in our young women.

    Degrees and honours

    BA (Modern Languages, Cambridge), MA (Cambridge), DPhil (Oxford)

    Awards and prizes

    2004 Officier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques

    Prix d’Académie awarded by the French Academy 1997

    Prix Georges Dumézil awarded by the French Academy 2013

    AHRC major award under the Open World Research Initiative, Multilingualism: Empowering Individuals, Transforming Societies (PI, 2016-2021)

    AHRC project Promoting Language Policy (PI, 2021-2022)


    I studied French and German as an undergraduate at Girton College, Cambridge, but soon realised that my true passion was linguistics. After graduating I did a DPhil in Oxford with Professor Rebecca Posner on a key figure in the standardisation of the French language in the seventeenth century, Claude Favre de Vaugelas. Following a year as a Junior Research Fellow at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, I was appointed to an Assistant Lectureship in the French Department in 1983, and have been in Cambridge ever since. In 2005 I became Professor of French Philology and Linguistics and in 2009 I moved to the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics. I have been a Fellow of Murray Edwards since 2001. I have been lucky enough to have had several periods as Visiting Professor in France and the USA, including Pajus Distinguished Visiting Professor, at the University of California, Berkeley in 2012.

    Publications (selected)

    Vaugelas and the Development of the French Language, London: MHRA, 1987

    A History of the French Language through Texts, London: Routledge, 1996

    Les Remarques de l’Académie Française sur le Quinte-Curce de Vaugelas 1719-1720, co-authored with Philippe Caron,  Paris: Presses de l’Ecole normale supérieure, 1996.

    Problems and Perspectives: Studies in the Modern French Language, co-authored with Janice Carruthers, Harlow: Longman Linguistics Library, 2000.

    Sociolinguistic Variation in Seventeenth-century France: Methodology and Case Studies, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

    The French Language and Questions of Identity, edited volume with Mari C. Jones, Oxford: Legenda, 2007.

    Remarques et observations sur la langue française : histoire et évolution d’un genre, co-authored with Magali Seijido, Paris: Éditions Classiques Garnier, 2011.

    Bon Usage et variation sociolinguistique: Perspectives diachroniques et traditions nationales, edited volume with Magali Seijido, Lyon : ENS Éditions, 2013.

    Claude Favre de Vaugelas, Remarques sur la langue françoise, Paris: Editions Classiques Garnier, 2018.

    Manual of Romance Sociolinguistics, edited volume with Janice Carruthers, Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2018.

    Women in the History of Linguistics, edited volume with Helena Sanson, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020.

    The Cambridge Handbook of Language Standardization, edited volume with John Bellamy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021.