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Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme


Sana Kidwai


Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, Fitzwilliam College

PhD thesis: Voice, Case and the external Argument: The perspective from Urdu

Research interests
1. Syntax
2. Morphology
3. South Asian languages
4. Hindi-Urdu
5. Verbal domains

My PhD dissertation investigates case in Urdu. Case is a linguistic device used to signal the roles of event participants in a sentence, and is an important tool in conveying event information. I look at case in two respects: (i) how case is affected by other syntactic factors, specifically, active/passive voice, and (ii) how case itself affects other syntactic phenomena, in particular, the core concept of subjecthood. My dissertation zooms in on patterns that have previous been reported as exceptions to robust cross-linguistic generalisations, and looks for regularities in these patterns. One of my key findings is that many so-called exceptions in Urdu are only superficial, bringing us one step closer to establishing universal properties of language.

Plans after graduating: I am currently turning chapters of my PhD into individual papers for publication, and also working on research proposals for grant applications.


Who or what inspired you to pursue your research interests?

I was inspired to pursue my research interests by my undergraduate supervisor. He was the one who first introduced me to syntax and I absolutely fell in love with it. My research style has been heavily influenced by him. When the time came, he was the one to push me to apply to PhD programmes. I was initially hesitant, but his encouragement gave me the confidence I needed and I went for it.