Ertegun Staff and Scholar Profiles

Michele Bianconi

Current course: 
DPhil in Comparative Philology and General Linguistics

After a BA in Classics in 2012, with a thesis entitled “The primordial gods of the Indo-Europeans” (supervisor Professor Saverio Sani), on February 2015 I obtained my MA in Classical Philology and Ancient History at the University of Pisa, with a thesis entitled “Linguistic contacts in the Greek-Anatolian area in the II millennium BCE” under the supervision of Professor Romano Lazzeroni, Dr. Domenica Romagno and Professor Mauro Tulli.

Greek and Latin languages are my first and everlasting interests (I picked them up at the first year of high school), but over the last six years I have also had experience of other ancient Indo-European languages, such as Sanskrit, Sabellic, Anatolian and Celtic languages. My approach to ancient languages is meant to be multidisciplinary: I have always wanted to be a “classicist” and a “linguist” at the same time, as I am interested both in textual criticism and Greek/Latin literatures and in historical linguistic issues. I have been formally trained as a historical linguist, but I believe that a modern scholar should always try to the use the newest theories available in order to solve old problems. As a great scholar once said, “the historical linguist – as the classical philologist – does not know disciplines; he knows problems, and he tackles them from any side with every possible means”.

My research project involves the linguistic situation of the eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean-Anatolian area, and in particular the linguistic relationships between Greek and Anatolian languages. My focus is on the interactions and contacts of these branches during the II millennium and part of the I millennium BCE, trying to disentangle areal features from archaisms and linguistic borrowings from shared innovations of these two branches; this kind of investigation involves every part of language (phonetics, morphology, syntax, semantics, etc.) and has to take into account also literary, historical and cultural data. I started this work for my MA thesis and I am looking forward to continuing it with the DPhil in Comparative Philology at Oxford.

Beside academics, I love reading, playing piano and travelling; I also try to be an active part of my community, as I did - for instance - at my former university, where I have founded and led for a while a students’ political-cultural association and have become a students’ delegate in my department.

I have always liked being in multicultural environments: I have spent my fourth year of high school in the United States (Colorado) and met wonderful people from all around the world. I am sure I will find something similar here at Ertegun, where is a great honour to be admitted in. This vibrant community of “humanists” (in its broader sense) will definitely give me a unique support in order to earn the best from this Oxford experience.