Michael Ramsammy


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

Contact details



Room 3.03, Dugald Stewart Building

3 Charles Street, Edinburgh
Post code


  • Office hours:
    My office is 3.03 in Dugald Stewart Building. I don't have set weekly office hours. Please email m.ramsammy@ed.ac.uk to arrange an appointment.

Undergraduate teaching


  • LASC11089 Introduction to Phonology (MSc)
  • LASC10093 Sign Language Linguistics
  • LASC10089 Current Issues in Phonology
  • LASC10083 Phonological Theory and English Phonology
  • LASC10046 Historical Phonology
  • LASC08022 Linguistics and English Language 1A (LEL1A)
  • LASC08023 Linguistics and English Language 1B (LEL1B)

Postgraduate teaching

I'm the programme director for the MSc in Linguistics (see here: http://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/postgraduate/degrees/index.php?r=site/view&id=908).  Please get in touch if you have any enquiries about this programme.

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

I'm happy to supervise PhD and MSc projects that align in some way with my research interests.  Below is a list of titles of some dissertations and theses that I've supervised in recent years.  Potential students should feel free to contact me directly to discuss research supervision with me.


Recent dissertation/thesis titles:

  • Unnatural consonant epenthesis doesn't exist
  • The social meaning of /r/ in Austrian German
  • Vowel qualities and language attitudes of Derby adolescents: a study of PRICE, TRAP/BATH and FOOT/STRUT
  • The Realness: style-shifting in drag performance
  • The acquisition of /l/-darkening by Spanish-English bilinguals
  • The effect of iconicity on L2 acquisition of British Sign Language
  • I see what you did there. Iconicity aids the acquisition of signs in the gestural modality.
  • To what extent does Kazakh have rounding harmony?


Current PhD students supervised

Research summary

I have a broad range of interests in Linguistics.  These include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Experimental and theoretical phonology
  • Articulatory and acoustic phonetics
  • Sign language linguistics, with a focus on BSL
  • Dialectology, with a focus on Portuguese and Spanish
  • Caribbean Creole Englishes, especially Guyanese Creole English
  • Historical Romance and Germanic linguistics
  • Phonological change, especially the life cycle of phonological processes
  • Sociophonetics, language variation and language attitudes

Current research interests

At present, I'm working on two projects using Ultrasound Tongue Imaging (UTI). Firstly, I've been carrying out experiments with speakers of Brazilian Portuguese to investigate stress-driven reduction patterns in nasal vowels. I have also been collecting UTI data on rhotic allophony patterns that will allow me to compare Brazilian and European dialects of Portuguese. Secondly, I'm working on a project in collaboration with Danielle Turton (University of Newcastle) in which we aim to examine differences in the use of L-vocalisation amongst speakers of Multicultural London English and Essex English. In addition, I am also very interested in research on British Sign Language, and am involved in a project aimed at helping deaf BSL users improve their literacy skills in English.

Past research interests

I have previously worked on two projects examining the social meanings of phonological features in Manchester, London and Edinburgh. Meanings associated to fronted and non-fronted variants of TH were studied with a focus on comparing London and Edinburgh (see this paper: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1360674312000317). Additionally, specific local meanings of ING in Manchester were examined, with a view to understanding the differences between velar (i.e. [ɪŋ]), alveolar (i.e. [ɪn] ) and plosivised realisations (i.e. [ɪŋɡ]) -- see this paper: https://benjamins.com/#catalog/books/silv.17.15sch/details. In addition, my PhD research addressed questions relating to the phonological derivation and phonetic implementation of coda nasals in different dialects of Spanish. Following from claims put forward in the existing phonological literature, my thesis comprises an instrumental investigation and full phonological analysis of a number of nasal place neutralisation processes (including default place assignment in word-final prevocalic and prepausal environments, place and manner assimilation in different morphosyntactic environments, and nasal place dissimilation in NN-clusters). Using electropalatography, I show that Spanish speakers from Galicia employ different neutralisation strategies from Castilian Spanish speakers. One primary goal of my work has been to show that speakers of alveolarising dialects of Spanish produce an apico-alveolar [n] in word-final (non-preconsonantal) neutralisation contexts, whereas speakers of velarising dialects articulate a robust dorso-velar nasal in these environments (see this paper: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022226712000187).