Edinburgh Research Explorer

Ronnie Cann

(Former employee or visitor)

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Research Interests

My main interests are in formal theories of the syntax, semantics and pragmatics of natural languages and their interaction to explain observable linguistic phenomena, and, more precisely, in the development of the radical theoretical linguistic framework of Dynamic Syntax.  My major responsibility in this development has been to provide articulation of  the formal details needed to substantiate the major claims articulated in the theory as to how syntax can be seen as mechanisms for language relative to context, with morpho-syntactic, syntactic, and lexical specifications all interacting to this end. 

Visiting and Research Positions

01/01/1984 – 30/06/1984- Temporary Lecturer in Linguistics, University of Edinburgh

01/10/1984 – 30/09/1994- Lecturer in Linguistics, University of Edinburgh

01/10/1985 - 30/09/1989- Associate member of the Centre for Cognitive Science, University of Edinburgh

01/10/1994 - 31/08/2006- Senior Lecturer in Linguistics, University of Edinburgh

01/09/2006 - 31/07/2012 Reader in Linguistics, University of Edinburgh

01/08/2012 - Professor of Linguistic Semantics

2007-2010- Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship



Course organiser for Historical Linguistics (Honours), Linguistic Reconstruction and Language Classification (Honours/MSc) and Diachronic Linguistics (MSc)) and semantics (course organiser for Lexical Semantics (Honours, MSc), Current Issues in Semantics and Pragmatics (Honours)).


Semantics in Linguistics 2A and proto-Indo-European and aspects of the Romance languages in Linguistics 2Lh. I am currently course organiser for Linguistics and English Language 1.

Transkills: from 2000 to 2008 I was involved in various initiatives from Transkills to do with postgraduates, in particular regularly running thesis-writing workshops for students in HSS.

Administrative Roles

Departmental and School:

1986-1992       Director of Studies

1992-1996       Head of Department  (Dept. of Linguistics)

1999-2000       Head of Department (Dept. of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics)

2005-2007       Head of PPLS Graduate School

2010-2015       Convener of Pre-Honours courses in Linguistics and English Language

2016-              Head of School

Faculty, Faculty Group and College:

1996-2000       Associate Dean (Postgraduate) Faculty of Arts

1996-2000       Head of  Linguistics Planning Unit

2000-2002       Director of International Strategy (Arts, Divinity and Music)

2001-2002       Vice Provost Arts, Divinity and Music

2002-2004       Dean of Postgraduate Studies, College of Humanities and Social Science


1993-1999      Member of University Staff Committee

1994-1999      Convener of University Harassment Advice Panel

1995-1998      Convener of University Equal Opportunities Forum

1998-1999      Co-convener of University Equal Opportunities Subcommittee

1996-2000      Member of Senatus Postgraduate Studies Committee

2001-2003      Member of University International Committee

2002-2004      Member of Senatus Postgraduate Studies Committee

2002-2004      Member of E-learning Strategy Group

2003-2004      Member of Curriculum Project Implementation Group


1976    B.A. in Classics (Upper Second Class),  University College London

1979    Diploma in Linguistics (Distinction), University College London

1984    D.Phil.  (Features and morphology in Generalized Phrase Structure Grammar),  University of Sussex


Research outputs

  1. Grammar as procedures: Language, interaction, and the predictive turn

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

  2. What do words do for us?

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Action-based grammar

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

View all (43) »

Research activities & awards

  1. Journal of Linguistics (Journal)

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditorial activity

  2. Elsevier Oxford (Publisher)

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditorial activity

  3. New Reflections on Grammaticalisation V

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

View all (56) »

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