Mirella Blum (she/her)


I currently work on the Leverhulme Trust-funded project ‘Suprasegmentals in three West Nilotic languages’ (PI Bert Remijsen). My research involves the description of the Dinka language, whose complex suprasegmental system involves independently contrastive tone, vowel length, and voice quality. I study the tone systems of dialects of Dinka, as well as the many morphophonological and morphosyntactic phenomena that reveal themselves during the process. My research interests broadly include tone, morphophonology, and the description of understudied and undocumented languages. Here at Edinburgh, I am part of Nilotic@Edinburgh and the Phonetics and Phonology Research Group.


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MSc in Linguistics, with distinction, University of Edinburgh (2020)

Responsibilities & affiliations

I am the LEL student rep for the PPLS EDI* committee. If you are a student in LEL, please feel free to contact me if you have questions or issues with anything related to EDI. 

*Equality, Diversity & Inclusion

Undergraduate teaching

In the 2021–2022 academic year, I tutored on the following courses:

LEL1B: Linguistics and English Language 1B (LASC08023)

LEL2D: Cross-Linguistic Variation: Limits and Theories (LASC08020)


Past research interests

My master's dissertation (completed at Edinburgh in 2020) involved a preliminary description of the tone system of Hol, a previously-undescribed dialect of Dinka, as well as the description of a previously-unclassified transitive verbal inflection in two dialects of Dinka (Hol and Bor South). I also spent some time volunteering at the Endangered Language Alliance (https://elalliance.org/), a fantastic organization in New York City, which documents and supports the hundreds of endangered languages spoken in the city.

Invited speaker

February 2022. Methodology for remote fieldwork during (and after) COVID-19. LACITO (Langues et civilisations à tradition orale), CNRS, Paris.

November 2021. Insights into Dinka noun number morphology. Linguistics Circle, Surrey Morphology Group, University of Surrey.


Nilo-Saharan Linguistics Colloquium, August 2021  (https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/nilotic/2021/08/07/15th-nilo-saharan-linguistics-colloquium-a-success/)

Papers delivered


The interaction of tone sandhi and prosodic domain in Dinka. November 2022. Western Conference on Linguistics, California State University, Fresno.


Floating tone in Dinka. August 2022. Colloquium of African Languages and Linguistics, Leiden University.

 Incongruent analogy in Dinka vowel grades (with Matthew Baerman). August 2022. International Conference on Historical Linguistics 2022, University of Oxford.

 Does Dinka have tripartite number marking?  April 2022. Annual Conference on African Linguistics 53. University of California San Diego (online).

Floating tone in Dinka and its tie to time pressure on contour tones.  December 2021. 1st International Conference on Tone and Intonation (TAI). Sonderborg, Denmark (online).

On the definition of adjectives in Dinka. August 2021. Workshop 'Adjective: the unknown category,' Societas Linguistica Europaea, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (online).

The interaction of tone and vowel length in Bor South Dinka. August 2021. 15th Nilo-Saharan Linguistics Colloquium (online).

Cross-dialect tonal variation in the Padang dialects of Dinka (with Bert Remijsen). June 2021. Phonetics and Phonology in Europe, Universitat Pompeu Fabra and the Universitat de Barcelona (online). [poster]

Between-dialect variation in Dinka tone systems (with Bert Remijsen). June 2021. 10th World Congress of African Linguistics, Leiden University (online).

On the definition of adjectives in Dinka. April 2021.  Annual Conference of African Linguistics 51-52, University of Florida (online).

Verbal inflection and tense-aspect in Bor Dinka. September 2020. 50th Colloquium of African Languages and Linguistics, Leiden University (online).

A descriptive analysis of the tone system of Hol Dinka. June 2020. Edinburgh Centre for Data, Culture &  Society 'Cancelled Conference Conference.'  

D. Robert Ladd and Mirella L. Blum. In press. 'On the systematic nature of Dinka noun number morphology.' Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 42(2). doi: https://doi.org/10.1515/jall-2021-2020/html

Mirella L. Blum. 2021. 'On the nature of adjectives: evidence from Dinka.' Glossa: a journal of general linguistics 6(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.16995/glossa.5765