A study of request formulae and related directives in the Latin Verse Inscriptions

Department: Classics

Supervised by: Prof. Peter Kruschwitz

The Placement Project

Politeness phenomena of the Latin language have been studied in some detail over the last few years. Typically, these studies have focused on the linguistic behaviour in human-human interactions – as one would, of course, expect. There is a significant body of evidence, however, that can provide further insights, yet falls outside this category: Latin inscriptions, especially those written in verse (as they tend to be more wordy than others), that request specific behaviours or actions from an undefined, randomly selected audience. How do these texts reach out to their readership, and how do they pitch their requests, linguistically? The proposed project aims to establish a synthetical overview, with critical analysis and in-depth case studies, of the modes and strategies that are employed in this material across space and time (as necessary for work in ancient linguistics). Based on an analysis of 2,000+ (mostly short) texts and a dataset already created by the PI, a substantial article will be written, discussing, classifying, and analysing the material in terms of typology, register, and linguistic politeness. The project is a new, stand-alone project under the umbrella of Reading’s Language, Text, and Power research initiative (for further details please refer to It builds on the PI’s longstanding interest in Ancient linguistics. It will allow the successful candidate to engage in a cutting-edge research project, from its earliest stages to preparation for publication.


The student, guided by the PI, will be responsible for the verification and analysis of the data as well as for a first draft of the paper (in close discussion with the PI). This includes initial research on ancient linguistics and the Carmina Latina Epigraphica (2 weeks), verification and classification of the dataset (both in terms of verbal evidence and more general discourse; 2.5 weeks), resulting in an extensive, marked-up final collection of data. The remaining 1.5 weeks will be spent on the writing-up process, which then will be the basis for a joint publication.

Skills, knowledge and experience required

The successful candidate must have command of Latin at GCSE level or equivalent (e.g. completion of CL1L1 - Latin 1). An already existing interest in ancient linguistics is desirable, but not essential.

Skills which will be developed during the placement

This placement will result in developing a wide range of generic and specific skills. First and foremost, it will result in second authorship of a scholarly publication, which will fundamentally enhance the student’s employability through a realistic work experience and give a sense of unique achievement during UG study. Secondly, the placement will give a fully-fledged insight into how a research project is undertaken from its early stages to publication (framing of research question, generation of data, arrangement and interpretation of material, writing up) through a collaborative, hands-on approach. Since the student will take full part in this process and can give his input at all stages, this will create a strong sense of student ownership. Thirdly, the project will be helpful to the student for the BA dissertation and beyond, as s/he by the beginning of the third year will have got an idea of how actual research is structured and conducted, whether or not the student decides to remain in Classics. Finally, as for the generic skill set, this project will develop further bibliographical and IT skills and expand an area of research in Classics that is not normally taught in the degree programme.

Place of Work

Office space and PC access will be provided if required

Hours of Work


Approximate Start and End Dates (not fixed)

Monday 07 July 2014 - Friday 15 August 2014

How to Apply

Suitable candidates should send their CV and a covering letter to .

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