Photo credits:
Lars Wallin

Nicholas Zair

Pro Futura Scientia Fellow, SCAS.
Lecturer in Classics (Classical Linguistics and Comparative Philology), University of Cambridge

Nicholas Zair read Literae Humaniores (Classics) as an undergraduate, followed by an MPhil and DPhil in
Comparative Philology and General Linguistics at Merton and Jesus Colleges, University of Oxford. In
2010 he was appointed a Research Fellow at Peterhouse, University of Cambridge, subsequently worked
on the AHRC-funded ‘Greek in Italy’ project at Cambridge and became a lecturer in 2016.

His DPhil thesis on The Reflexes of the Proto-Indo-European Laryngeals in Celtic was awarded the Johann
Kaspar Zeuß Prize of the Societas Celtologica Europaea and was published by Brill in 2012. His second
monograph, on Oscan in the Greek Alphabet, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2016. This
book examined how speakers of Oscan, a language related to Latin and spoken in southern Italy c. 400–50 BC,
wrote their language when using the Greek alphabet. The book provided new evidence for the sound system
of Oscan and argued that the spelling rules were primarily decided on an individual basis by writers, rather
than reflecting a centralised tradition.

Zair has written a number of articles and book chapters about the historical morphology, phonology and
writing systems of the Celtic and Italic language families. As a Pro Futura Fellow, he is working on the use
of conservative spelling in Latin texts from the Imperial period of Roman history (c. first– fifth century AD),
with particular reference to what this can tell us about the education of sub-elite speakers of Latin.

Nicholas Zair is in residence at the Collegium in the academic year 2020-21.
This information is accurate as of the academic year 2020-21.