Dr Sheila Watts


Fellow, College Lecturer and Director of Studies

College Jobs

  • Fellow A
  • College Lecturer, German
  • Director of Studies, Modern and Medieval Languages (2nd and 4th years) MT 19 & LT 20

University Jobs

  • University Senior Lecturer in German at the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages


Email: sw271@cam.ac.uk


Dr Sheila Watts is a historical linguist, specialising in linguistic change in Germanic languages.

After studying and working as a lecturer at Trinity College, Dublin, she came to Cambridge in 1998 to take up a lectureship in German. Her doctoral dissertation was on verbal categories in Old Saxon. Her undergraduate languages were German and Russian, and she has spent longer periods abroad in Moscow, Copenhagen and Göttingen.

She is now University Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages.

Research Interests

Dr Sheila Watts specializes in the historical linguistics of German and related languages. She works on a number of international collaborative research projects.

She has a particular research interest in Middle Low German, the language which was spoken by merchants associated with the Hanseatic League across Northern Europe from about 1350–1550. She collaborates with colleagues in Manchester and Gent on this project, which has major grant funding from the Government of Flanders.

Since 2011 Sheila has been part of a project group with Anne Breitbarth (Ghent) and George Walkden (Manchester, now Konstanz) working to build a digital Corpus of Historical Low German (CHLG). This project has been supported by the Newton Trust, the British Academy and the Government of Flanders.

Since 2017, Sheila has been collaborating on a project exploring the Early Germanic Noun Phrase, funded by the Norwegian Research Foundation, in collaboration with colleagues from Oslo, Manchester, Wuppertal and Konstanz.

She has published on verb categories and on gender in Old Saxon and Old High German. A further interest is in the history of linguistic ideas about German, where she has published on the grammarian Justus Georg Schottelius and the lexicographer Caspar Stieler.