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Home > Personal sites > Benjamin Fagard

Research topics

by Benjamin FAGARD - published on , updated on

Contact details

Email address: benjamin.fagard(at)

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Laboratoire Lattice - CNRS, UMR 8094

1 rue Maurice Arnoux

92120 Montrouge


Research area
My research mainly bears on linguistic variation, especially in diachrony, with a typological perspective. Of course, even if the main question I’m trying to answer is “how do languages change?”, it is obvious for linguists that languages cannot change without variation. Variation prepares change: to take a well-know example, going from French je mangerai plus tard to je vais manger plus tard (both meaning ‘I’ll eat later’) necessarily implies a phase of variation, during which the two possibilities coexist.
I address this question by working on specific cases of language variation and change, to try and understand how the (grammatical) system of languages change. For instance, how do grams (grammatical words) used for the description of space, such as prepositions, undergo changes from one period or one language type to the other? More specifically, how did we go from Latin, with a case system and a few prepositions, to French, in which prepositions keep getting more numerous and more frequent, while case markings gradually disappear? In another domain altogether, why do speakers of Romance languages tend to use discourse markers (in fact, finally, besides), while those of Germanic languages tend to use modal markers (such as German ja)?
Such contrasts between languages bring us to another area of my research, the relation between language system and description of the world around us: how does the language structure constrain the way speakers describe, for instance, space or colors? Is its impact more or less important than more global cognitive factors?
Finally, I have started working on models of language evolution, these past years: can mathematical models help us find, if not answers, at least new questions to ask on this complex phenomenon?
See this page for my papers (available on the HAL website ( and/or on Researchgate and Academia), and that one for my CV.

PhD Students

  • I supervise the PhD of Camille Colin (Université Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle), with Laure Sarda, co-supervisor : «Localisation temporelle et ‘métaphore spatiale’ : un seul schème cognitif pour deux dimensions ?». More details here.
    I also supervise the following PhDs:
  • Daniel Rojas Plata (Université Paris 7 Denis Diderot), with Anne Abeillé (LLF, CNRS), PhD supervisor: « Frontières de l’espace linguistique : analyse comparée des prépositions spatiales du français et de l’espagnol ». More details here.
  • Clément Voirin (Université Lyon 2), with Anetta Kopecka (DDL, Université Lyon 2), PhD supervisor: « Etude typologique de l’expression (a)symétrique de la trajectoire ». More details here.
  • Med Amine Lahouli (Université de Carthage), avec Houda Ben Hamadi (Université de Carthage), PhD supervisor: « Vers une approche cognitive diachronique de la polysémie ».
  • I follow the PhD of Quentin Feltgen (LPS, ENS), with Jean-Pierre Nadal (LPS, ENS & EHESS), PhD supervisor: « Physique statistique de l’évolution des langues : le cas de la grammaticalisation ». More details here.