Jim Donaldson

PhD Linguistics & English Language

  • Linguistics and English Language
  • School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences

Contact details



2.01 Dugald Stewart Building

3 Charles Street, Edinburgh
Post code


My MSc dissertation was on the interpretation of elliptical why questions ("Why do that?", "Why him?").  It received the 2013 award for Best PPLS Dissertation.

My PhD dissertation has been underway since then (except for leave between 2016 & 2018) and is expected in 2019.  It is on the control of free adjuncts in English.

I was a research assistant for PLAEME (A Parsed Linguistic Atlas of Early Middle English).  My job was to correct the parsing for approximately 200,000 words of Early Middle English spread across 40 texts.

I am also the coordinator for the PPLS Writing Centre.


I have taught several courses at the Centre for Open Learning: Linguistics (2 sections), History of English, Psycholinguistics, Sociolinguistics and Introduction to English Grammar. 

I received EUSA Teaching Award nominations for "Best overall teacher" in 2016 and "Innovative assessment" for Linguistics: the Science of Language in 2017.


I've been working on animated linguistics videos with a number of professors (Caroline Heycock and Geoff Pullum, with more on the way).  These videos were created with the help of the Teaching and Learning Initiative Fund and have been posted to the PPLS LEL YouTube channel

I'm also the video manager for the UK Linguistics Olympiad.  With the help of the Innovative Initiative Grant, I am currently collaborating with Graeme Trousdale on a series of videos designed to help students prepare for the competition.

Research summary

constraint-based grammar formalisms (particularly HPSG), ellipsis, anaphora, pragmatics, control

Gisborne, N., & Donaldson, J. (2019). Thematic Roles and Events. In R. Truswell (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Event Structure.

Truswell, R., Alcorn, R., Donaldson, J., & Wallenberg, J. (2017). A Parsed Linguistic Atlas of Early Middle English. In R. Alcorn, J. Kopaczyk, B. Los & B. Molineaux (Eds.) Historical Dialectology in the Digital Age