An abridged version can be found on my academic webpage

In Latin-Romance linguistics, I have worked mainly on prepositions and the processes in which certain lexical prepositions have been reanalysed as functional markers of nominal complements (case-markers) and non-finite clausal (infinitival) complements (complementisers). I have looked particularly at Differential Object Marking (DOM) in Western Romance, namely the use of ad as a marker of animate and/or referential objects, which has puzzled me since my early days of learning Spanish at school. I have also analysed the distribution and formation of Romance prepositional infinitives, which happens to be my M.A. dissertation topic. Furthermore, I have worked on the formation of the Romance future (Latin habere + infinitive/infinitive + habere) and used it for my theoretical research on syntaxMore detail can be found in my papers, publications, dissertationconference presentations and invited talks

On this page, I outline my research in Latin-Romance linguistics, namely Latin-Romance prepositions, and provide synopses and downloadable copies of all my work in this field in thematic order: 

Romance Case-markers

'What is the D in DOM (Differential Object Marking)? Oral (virtual) presentation at the Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistic (HLL) Online Virtual Colloquium, 11th September 2020.   

Romance varieties display significant microvariation in Differential Object Marking (DOM), and although animacy is a primary factor in triggering DOM, other factors that have to do with referentiality (+D) also condition Romance DOM in ways which create intermediary types of DOM. Taking such D factors into account may allow us to create a formal typology of DOM in Romance. 


Abstract downloadable here:   

'Microvariation in Western Romance Differenial Object Marking (ad): diachrony and synchrony'. Oral presentation at 'Differential Object Marking in Romance- Towards Microvariation', Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO), Paris, France, 9th November 2018.


A microparametric analysis of Western Romance Differential Object Marking (DOM) reveals not only microvariations between different yet related varieties but also mechanisms which underlie the structure of the Romance nominal domain both from a diachronic and synchronic perspective.  

Abstract downloadable here:  

'Formalist and functionalist factors in parameter resetting: a creative compromise’. Oral presentation at the Workshop 'Learnability in a Parametric World', Romance Turn IX, University of Bucharest, Bucharest, Romania, 1st September 2018. 

Formal approaches towards syntactic change assume that parameter-resetting occurs in first language acquisition (Lightfoot (1991, 1998)), and current Minimalist assumptions (Strong Minimalist Thesis (SMT)) predict that formal 'simplicity' determines the outcome of the formation of child grammar (Roberts (2001, 2007), van Gelderen (2011), cf Chomsky (1995, 2005, 2007)). Romance data, namely the diachrony of prepositions as Case-markers and complementisers, seem to show that while formal 'simplicity' does play a role in parameter-resetting, other factors pertaining to the functionalist realms of expressivity and clarity permit a significant pool of formal variation which demonstrates the creativity in parameter-fixing. 

Abstract downloadable here:  

'Western Romance Different Object Marking (ad): analogical generalization and feature 'simplification’. Oral presentation at the 21st Annual Ohio State University Congress on Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics (OSUCHiLL), Ohio State University, Ohio, United States, 30th March 2018

Although Differential Object Marking (ad) is pan-Romance and has proto-Romance origins, it displays subtle microvariations between different dialects which reveal different analogical and formal pressures at bay. 

Abstract downloadable here:  

'Latin/Romance ad: Differential Object Marking, Minimalism and formalism/functionalism’. Oral presentation at Going Romance 2013, University of Amsterdam, Friday 29th November 2013. 

A new account of the proto-Romance formation of the Romance Differential Object Marking (DOM) system is reconstructed from medieval Romance and traced back to Latin, which not only accounts for the DOM properties of western Romance ad, but also expands on traditional analyses of Latin/Romance ad as a case-marker (K(case)). 

Abstract downloadable here: 

Written-up version downloadable here: 

‘The formation of Differential Object Marking: creative parametric microparametric variation of semantic features’. Oral presentation at the International Workshop: Diachrony of Differential Object Marking, Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (INALCO), Paris, France, 17th November 2017.

A formal comparative analysis of two famous case-studies of Differential Object Marking (DOM) (Latin/Romance ad and Chinese ba/jiang) reveals striking similarities and differences in the formal alignment of semantic features in nominal arguments, which not only demonstrates the dynamic creativity and sensitivity to semantic features in formal Case-marking, but also allows us to form a formal typology of DOM, which is richly attested as a cross-linguistic universal. 

Abstract downloadable here: 

'Formal convergence and divergence: creative parametric (re)setting in Latin/Romance syntactic change’. Oral presentation at the Workshop on 'Romance Diachrony at the Interfaces', 48th Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages (LSRL), University of York, Toronto, Canada, 25th April 2018. 

A formal analysis of the evolution of Latin/Romance prepositions shows that while 'simplicity' strongly determines parameter-(re)setting in historical syntax in conformity to the Inertia Principle, the mechanisms behind this are far from mechanical or predictable as a level of creativity and sensitivity to the inherent semantics of the elements in question can be shown. 

Abstract downloadable here:  

'The formation of Spanish prepositional objects'. Association of Hispanists in Great Britain and Ireland (AHGBI) Annual Conference, University of Oxford, Monday 25th March 2013. 

The genesis of Spanish prepositional objects (+ direct object) is analysed in depth with reference to medieval Spanish texts (mainly El Poema del mio Cid) and a comparison with other medieval Romance varieties reveals proto-Romance/Latin origins.  

Abstract downloadable here:  

'The formation of (Ibero-)Romance Case-markers'. 2nd Cambridge Colloquium on the 'Histories of the Ibero-Romance Languages', Norman MacColl Symposium 2012, Queen's College, University of Cambridge, Thursday 29th March 2012.

The use of Latin ad as a Romance Case-marker is carefully reconsidered and new empirical and theoretical insights are proposed. 

Presentation downloadable here:  

Romance prepositional infinitives

'Formation of (proto-)Romance non-finite complementation: a tale of two prepositions (and more)'. Oral presentation at the Romance Linguistics Seminar (RLS), Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge, Friday 5th January 2018. 

The wide distribution (geographical and historical) of Romance prepositional infinitives suggests proto-Romance formation, yet their total and complete absence in Latin renders their origins opaque. Structural parallels between Latin and Romance complementation are examined, and new hypotheses regarding the evolution of Latin and Romance non-finite complementation are proposed. 

Abstract downloadable here:  

Written-up version downloadable here: 

'(Proto-)Romance prepositional infinitives and modal verbs: a typological comparison with English modal verbs and to-infinitive'. Modern Languages Association (MLA) Annual Convention, Session on Comparative Romance Linguistics, Boston, United States, 3rd-6th January 2013. 

The formation of Romance prepositional infinitives and modal verbs, a hitherto underexplored topic, is compared with classic and famous accounts on the formation of English modal verbs and to-infinitives. 

Abstract downloadable here:  

Written-up version downloadable here: 

'(Proto-)Romance prepositional infinitives and modal verbs’. Oral presentation at the Tenth International Conference on Late and Vulgar Latin (Latin Vulgaire-Latin Tardif (LVLT-X)), University of Bergamo, Friday 7th September 2012. 

Comparative Romance data is used to reconstruct (proto-)Romance patterns of clausal complementation and new hypotheses are proposed for Latin and Romance historical syntax, namely the formation of Romance prepositional infinitives. 

Abstract downloadable here: 

Written-up version downloadable here: 

Keith Tse


It is hard to explain my love and passion for Latin-Romance linguistics, but I have been fascinated by it since my schooldays when I studied Spanish and Latin in parallel and was always trying to make connections between them. I discovered many significant grammatical and linguistic differences between Latin and Spanish (though a great number of similarities too) and hence endeavoured to reconstruct proto-Romance and compare it with classical Latin. This was my favourite teenage hobby, and whenever I spoke Spanish (or any Romance language), I felt like I was speaking modern Latin like a modern Roman citizen in the modern Roman Empire (see my blog). The rest is history. 

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© Keith Tse (2015-) 

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London, United Kingdom