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You are here: FRIAS Fellows Fellows 2021/22 Prof. Dr. Suzanne Romaine

Prof. Dr. Suzanne Romaine

University of Oxford
External Senior Fellow (Marie S. Curie FCFP)
October 2015, May 2016


Suzanne Romaine graduated from Bryn Mawr College with an A.B. magna cum laude, and completed her MLitt at the University of Edinburgh, and PhD at the University of Birmingham. Prior to becoming Merton Professor of English Language at the University of Oxford in 1984, she was Senior research scientist in linguistic anthropology at the Max Planck Institut für Psycholinguistik in Nijmegen, and Lecturer in linguistics at the University of Birmingham. She has received honorary doctorates from the University of Uppsala and the University of Tromsø and has held a variety of scholarships and visiting fellowships at other universities including the Rotary International Foundation fellowship, the Canada Commonwealth Scholarship, Kerstin Hesselgren Professor for outstanding women in the Humanities, the Royden B. Davis Chair in Interdisciplinary Studies at Georgetown University, She was a resident fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford and was elected Fellow of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters. She was a member of the Expert Group that produced UNESCO’s position paper on Education in a Multilingual World (Paris, 2003), and wrote the backgrounder paper on Languages and Cultural Identities for UNESCO’s report Investing in Cultural Diversity and Intercultural Dialogue (Paris, 2009). Her research interests include linguistic diversity, multilingualism, language death, language revitalization, language change and contact.


Selected Publications

  • Romaine, Suzanne 2015. Linguistic diversity and global English: The pushmi-pullyu of language policy and political economy. Chapter 11. In Ricento, Thomas ed. Language policy and political economy:  English in a global context. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 252-275.
  • Romaine, Suzanne 2014. Linguistic diversity in high biodiversity hotspots and wilderness areas. Arlington,VA: Conservation International. [jointly with LJ Gorenflo, S Musinsky, M Denil & RA Mittermeier].
  • Romaine, Suzanne 2013. Keeping the promise of the Millennium Development Goals: Why language matters. Applied Linguistics Review 4(1):1-21.
  • Romaine, Suzanne 2012. Co-occurrence of linguistic and biological diversity in biodiversity hotspots and high biodiversity wilderness areas. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109(21):8032-8037. [jointly with LJ Gorenflo, RA Mittermeier & K Walker-Painemilla]. Plus Supporting information. 1-6.
  • Romaine, Suzanne 2000. Vanishing Voices. The Extinction of the World's Languages. New York: Oxford University Press. [jointly with Daniel Nettle]. Translations in Italian, Japanese, Turkish, French, Catalan, Dutch, Korean.


FRIAS Research Project

Poor People in rich places: Linguistic diversity, biodiversity and poverty

Many of the world’s poorest people live in areas of high linguistic/cultural diversity and high biodiversity. The research will use GIS (global information system) mapping to bring together datasets concerning the geographic distribution of languages, species and poverty indicators into a new interdisciplinary framework to identify global ‘hotspots’, where threatened languages and species overlap to the greatest extent with high levels of poverty. Identifying and understanding the magnitude of geographic overlap between linguistic diversity, biodiversity and poverty are crucial first steps towards possible solutions that reconcile sustainable and equitable human development with conserving biological and linguistic diversity.