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Egyptologist is visiting the Department of Linguistics

Gaëlle Chantrain is a linguist and egyptologist with a research background from the University of Liège and Yale University. In May 2022 she is a visiting research fellow at the Department of Linguistics.

Gaëlle Chantrain is based at the University of Liège and is working on a project on the verbs of cognition in ancient Egyptian. She is currently also writing a monograph about a new description of the classifier system in ancient Egyptian and the relation between classification strategies and lexical semantic evolution dynamics.

Gaëlle Chantrain. Private photo
Gaëlle Chantrain’s photo

From the philology of ancient Egyptian to modern linguistics

As a linguist, Gaëlle Chantrain is interested in lexical semantics, semantic typology and cognitive linguistics, especially conceptual metaphor theory. She says she is genuinely fascinated by the human mind and by the way world conceptualisation realises in the lexicon, in different cultures and languages:

"I got into linguistics through the philology of ancient Egyptian, an afroasiatic language attested on a period of over 3000 years. The diachronic depth of the language I study made me particularly attentive to diachronic changes in the language and to the challenges that arise when encountering such temporal and cultural gaps."


Wish to provide a more precise description of ancient Egyptian

Gaëlle Chantrain hopes that her research will contribute to the fields of egyptology and linguistics by providing a more precise description of the functioning of the semantic classifier system in the hieroglyphic and hieratic scripts and a more precise description of some areas of the ancient Egyptian lexicon:

"Indeed, when opening a dictionary of ancient Egyptian, one realises quickly that the lexicon comprises an abnormally high number of lexemes that appear as synonyms, which is a sign of vagueness" she says. 

Gaëlle Chantrain also wish to facilitate the inclusion of more ancient Egyptian data in semantic typology studies as well as testing the validity of conceptual metaphor theory on a consequent diachronic depth and determining its role as a trigger for polysemy.

What brings you to Stockholm and the Department of Linguistics?

"My interest in semantic shifts, semantic typology and, more precisely, the work of Professor Maria Koptjevskaja Tamm in these areas. Her research has been a great source of inspiration for me in recent years, especially for my past and current work about emotion and cognition expression."


Gaëlle Chantrain

  • MA in oriental languages with a major in Egyptology (University of Liège, Belgium). Her thesis was in the field of lexical semantics and focused on the lexicon of love and desire in Ancient Egyptian.
  • She received her PhD from the University of Louvain in September 2017 and was awarded a scholarship from the F.R.S-FNRS (Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research). Her dissertation was about the Lexicon of Time in Ancient Egypt and has been published in early 2020 as a monograph in the series Lingua Aegyptia – Studia Monographica (Widmaier). During her PhD, she was also visiting scholar at the Humboldt University in Berlin. 
  • She did her first postdoc at the Charles University in Prague (Jan 2018 – Jun 2019) where she worked on classification strategies in Late Period funerary texts.
  • In July 2019, she started her second postdoc at Yale University (USA) where she worked on a project about figurative language for emotion expression. 
  • In July 2021, she came back to Belgium for her third and current postdoctoral appointment, funded by the F.R.S-FNRS.