I was Professor of Linguistics at the University of Manchester until 2020. I have held visiting and honorary positions at the Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics (Birmingham), University of Haifa, Humboldt University (Berlin), Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Sorbonne University (Paris), Cambridge University, La Trobe University (Melbourne), University of Konstanz, National Centre for Scientific Research (Paris), Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Leipzig), Central European University (Budapest), and Nanyang Technological University (Singapore). I was awarded a British Academy Wolfson Professorial Fellowship in 2017 and a fellowship at the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg Institute for Advanced Study in 2022. During my academic career I supervised more than 25 PhD dissertations in the areas of contact linguistics and bilingualism, language documentation, Romani linguistics, Arabic dialectology, discourse pragmatics, language policy, urban multilingualism, and the linguistics of Kurdish, Hebrew, and Turkish. My former PhD students include Khoi Nguyen, Leonie Gaiser, Franceso Goglia, Şirin Tufan, Carmen Rios Garcia, Barbara Schrammel, Jakob Wiedner, Kathleen Easlick, Jonathan Morris, Daniele Viktor Leggio, Richard Davey, Amelia Abercrombie, Heveen Ali Kurdi, Fatemah Mahsain, Maryam Shabibi, Mohamed Othman, Essa Salem, and others. I was awarded research grants with a total value of over GBP 7mio as PI, from the British Academy, Arts and Humanities Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, European Science Foundation, European Commission Seventh Framework Programme, Open Society Institute, and others, and have been involved as co-I in funded projects with a value of over GBP 12 mio.

During my time at the University of Manchester I founded and led the Manchester Working Group on Language Contact, the Romani Project, and Multilingual Manchester. I set up digital resources for the dialectology of Romani, Kurdish, and Arabic, co-initiated the Romani Virtual Library and the Romani lexical database Romlex, and set up online resources for endangered languages and contact linguistics as well as the mobile application and virtual map of linguistic landscapes Linguasnapp. I initiated the Multilingual Museum project and coined the concept of ‘storied translation‘ that guided it, and in 2021 I authored the substantial part of Manchester Museum’s application to Heritage Fund that allowed the project to continue.

I hold a nation-wide record as author of altogether five impact case studies submitted by the University of Manchester to the UK’s Research Excellence Framework: For the 2014 round I submitted impact case studies on ‘Supporting multilingualism and community language needs‘, ‘Promoting recognition and status of the Romani language‘ and ‘Improving the lives of Romani migrants in Western Europe‘. For the 2021 round I submitted impact case studies on ‘Supporting social inclusion and justice through enhanced understanding and recognition of language diversity‘ and ‘Influencing local government strategies and European policy discussion on Eastern European Roma migrants‘.

I left the University of Manchester in 2020 in the wake of sector-wide institutional developments that saw radical responses to the Covid crisis, a growing culture of corporate control affecting research, public engagement and academic freedom, and a climate that had become prone to suspicion and hostility towards staff of migrant and ethnic minority backgrounds as debates intensified around Brexit, xenophobia and antisemitism.

I served as editor of the journal Romani Studies with Liverpool University Press from 1999-2017. I was co-editor of the book series Sondersprachenforschung and of the journal Mediterranean Language Review, both with Harrassowitz publishers, and co-editor of the series Empirical Approaches to Language Typology (EALT) with De Gruyter Mouton. I edit the series Language Contact and Bilingualism (LCB) which was launched in 2010 with De Gruyter Mouton.

I trained in Linguistics and Arabic Language at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1982-1983), in Comparative and German Linguistics at the University of Tübingen (1983-1987) and in General Phonetics and Phonology and German Linguistics at the University of Hamburg (1987-1989). I completed my MA dissertation on Structural Variation and Standardisation in (Northern) Kurdish (1989) and my Dr.Phil. dissertation on Grammar and Discourse in Kelderaš/Lovari Romani (1993), both at the University of Hamburg.

I am interested in and have contributed to a range of sub-fields in linguistics including contact linguistics, language typology, documentation of endangered languages, dialectology, discourse pragmatics, language policy and planning, urban multilingualism (particularly ethnography of language policy and linguistic landscapes) and forensic linguistics (in particular Language Analysis for the Determination of Origin or LADO). My language interests and language expertise include German dialects (southwest Germany and Low German) and Yiddish, Romani, and languages of the Near East (Kurdish, Arabic, Hebrew, Domari, and Turkish) as well as contact languages and Sondersprachen (special vocabularies, sometimes called ‘jargons’ or ‘secret languages’). I have also contributed to research in the broader field of Romani studies in the areas of migration studies, cultural studies, and political participation.