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Professor Wendy Ayres - Bennett

History of linguistic thought in France; history of the French language; socio-historical linguistics; multilingualism
Professor Wendy Ayres - Bennett

Professor of French Philology and Linguistics

History of linguistic thought in France

History of the French language

Socio-historical linguistics

Building a corpus of French metalinguistic texts

Office Phone: (+44) (0)1223 760800

Departments and Institutes

Theoretical and Applied Linguistics:

Research Interests

I work on the history of the French language and the history of linguistic thought, particularly in seventeenth-century France. I am especially interested in considering what effect, if any, metalinguistic texts have on language change in France and the extent to which the seventeenth-century so-called prescriptive texts reflect or shape the evolution of the language. I have also published on socio-historical linguistics and have worked extensively on possible sources of non-standard usages in seventeenth-century France.

I am currently the PI of the MEITS project (Multilingualism: Empowering Individuals, Transforming Societies), a flagship project which seeks to transform the health of the discipline of Modern Languages in the UK, attitudes towards multilingualism, and language policy at home and abroad. With Nicola McLelland (University of Nottingham) I am Co-Investigator on Strand 2 of the project,  Standard languages, norms and variation: comparative perspectives in multilingual contexts.


  • Historical linguistics
  • Sociolinguistics
  • French
  • Multilingualism

Key Publications

Ayres-Bennett, W. (1987) Vaugelas and the Development of the French Language.  London, MHRA

Ayres-Bennett, W. (1996) A History of the French Language through Texts. London, Routledge

Ayres-Bennett, W. (2004) Sociolinguistic Variation in Seventeenth-Century France. Cambridge, CUP

Ayres-Bennett, W. and Seijido, M. (2011) Remarques et observations sur la langue française: histoire et évolution d'un genre. Paris, Classiques Garnier.

Ayres-Bennett, W. (2011) Corpus des remarques sur la langue française (XVIIe siècle). Paris, Classiques Garnier Numérique.