Nadine Dietrich

PhD Linguistics & English Language

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

Contact details


2020 - present   PhD Linguistics and English Language (University of Edinburgh)

  • Project: Dynamics of semantic change in English future-time expressions

2018-2020           MA Linguistics (University of Cologne)

  • Thesis: Verb-semantic factors in the development of the English futurate progressive

2013 - 2016         BA English Studies and Media Studies (Ruhr-University Bochum)

  • Thesis: The development of do-support in Early and Late Modern English


Responsibilities & affiliations

2022 -  present   JoULAB Member of Board of Reviewers        

2021-2022            Student Public Engagement Ambassador

  • Blog posts for the PPLS Forward Thinking Blog

Undergraduate teaching

Pre-honours tutoring

LEL2A: Linguistic Theory and the Structure of English (2021-2022)

LEL2C: English in Time and Space (2022)

Introduction to Cognitive Science (2022)


Honours & Postgraduate tutoring

Cognitive Linguistics (2023)

Historical Linguistics (2023)


Guest lecturing

Historical Linguistics - Lecture on Grammaticalization


Current research interests

I'm interested in grammatical innovations and language change and their respective cognitive underpinnings. I'm particularly interested in grammaticalization theory, semantic change and diachronic construction grammar. I'm currently working on the historical development of English future time expressions (be going to, will, shall), specifically focusing on the emergence of innovations and (grammatical) onomasiological change. The basis of the project is a self-compiled corpus of Early and Late Modern English plays, called the Corpus of Early and Late Modern English London Playwrights (CELMELP). I'm using frame semantics for the conceptualisation of futural meanings. The bulk of my data comes from manual semantic analysis. My further research interests include the semantics of the futurity and modality in general (especially the integration of fringe modal categories such as dynamic modality, conditionals and futurity), how to model and empirically investigate diachronic competition and the mental representation of linguistic knowledge (especially questions such as "how far up to we abstract" and the monosemy/polysemy debate). I also have an amateur interest in generative syntax and its (possible?) compatibility with cognitive linguistics, as well as language evolution (I have particularly enjoyed Hurford's Origins of Meaning and Origins of Grammar, as well as Heine & Kuteva's The Genesis of Grammar).

Past research interests

In my masters, I have focused particularly on the conceptualisation of modality and futurity. My master thesis investigated (verb) semantic factors in the development of the English futurate progressive, which involved the development of a semantic framework for futural meaning dimensions and argued that most futural expressions have modal flavours.


2021 Chair of Linguistics and English language postgraduate conference (LELPGC21), University of Edinburgh


Papers delivered


March 2023. "Semasiological and onomasiological conditions for innovation emergence: the case of be going to". Futures of the Past Workshop, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf.


August 2022. "Back to be going to again:  Arguments for the seamlessness of semantic innovations." 25th International Conference on Historical Linguistics (ICHL), University of Oxford.

July 2022. "Explaining specialisation and cross-meaning competition: the case of ‘command’ and ‘epistemic’ WILL and MUST." Workshop on Variation, Contact and Modal constructions, University of Paris.


August 2021. "Tackling problems with polysemy and variation: Towards high-definition constructions." 11th International conference on Construction Grammar (ICCG), University of Antwerp.

July 2021. "The importance of constructional semantics in historical corpus analysis: Origins and semantic changes of the English futurate progressive." 11th International Corpus Linguistics Conference (CL), University of Limerick.

June 2021. "The seamlessness of grammaticalization." 6th Conference of the International Society for the Linguistics of English (ISLE), University of Eastern Finnland.


November 2020. "Interacting Factors in Grammaticalization: Source, Usage in Context, Paradigm". 68th Studentische Tagung Sprachwissenschaft (StuTS), Berlin.


May 2019. "Rethinking Modality: Modality in its semantic neighbourhood." Manchester Forum in Linguistics, University of Manchester.