Indiana University Bloomington
Department of French and Italian

Barbara Vance

Associate Professor of French Linguistics
Associate Professor of Linguistics
Director of Undergraduate Studies—French

Office: Ballantine Hall 617
Office phone: 855-2702

Research Areas

French linguistics, syntax, history of French (including Occitan)


  • PhD, Cornell, 1989
  • MA, Cornell, 1981
  • AB, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1979


I am interested in understanding how and why language changes, and particularly in changes in syntactic systems (= changes in word order or in relations among parts of sentences). Although observation of contemporary variation and change-in-progress is important to my work, my primary focus is the 1200-year history of written French, a time period that is large enough for us to see the reflection of major upheavals in grammatical patterns. My investigation of syntactic change is couched in terms of contemporary generative syntactic theory, and my most recent research adds a dialectological and cross-linguistic perspective by examining regional variation in Old French and Old Occitan (the language of southern France).

Selected Publications


Contemporary Approaches to Romance Linguistics edited with Julie Auger and J. Clancy Clements (Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2004).

Syntactic Change in Medieval French (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1997).


"V2 Loss in Old French and Old Occitan: the Role of Fronted Clauses." In Romance Linguistics 2009: Selected Papers from the 39th Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages (March 2009), ed. by Sonia Colina et al. (Bryan Donaldson and B. Devan Steiner, co-authors). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 301-320.


  • Advanced French Grammar
  • Introduction to French Linguistics
  • French Morphology
  • French Syntax
  • Syntactic Analysis
  • History of French I and II
  • Advanced Syntax
  • Diachronic Syntax

Honors, Fellowships, and Awards

  • Trustees Teaching Award, 2003, 2007
  • Honorary Faculty member, IU Chapter of Golden Key Society, inducted 2006
  • Teaching Excellence Recognition Award, 1997