I studied General Linguistics and Arabic at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Comparative and Germanic Linguistics at the University of Tübingen, where I specialised in bilingualism, sociolinguistics, and dialectology as well as in Germanic languages and languages of the Middle East. I completed my M.A. and PhD degrees at Hamburg University, specialising first in the sociolinguistics of Kurdish, then in a functional-typological analysis of Romani. I worked as part-time teaching and research assistant at Hamburg University, and as communications officer for a Romani NGO, before joining the University of Manchester in 1995. I served as Professor Linguistics at the University of Manchester from 2003 to 2020.
I have an interest in language documentation and in endangered languages, and some samples of my fieldwork carried out since 1984 can be found on my online Archive of Endangered and Smaller Languages. I served as Editor of the interdisciplinary journal Romani Studies (with Liverpool University Press), series editor of Language Contact and Bilingualism and series co-editor of Empirical Approaches to Language Typology (both with Mouton de Gruyter publishers). My recent books include A Grammar of Domari (Mouton de Gruyter 2012), Romani in Britain: The afterlife of a language (Edinburgh University Press, 2010), Language contact (Cambridge University Press, 2009; second edition 2020), and Romani: A linguistic introduction (Cambridge University Press, 2002). I have recently published a general introduction to the history and culture of the Romani people, available in the US as 'The Romani Gypsies' (Harvard Univ Press, 2015) and in the UK and elsewhere as 'I met lucky people: The story of the Romani Gypsies' (Penguin, 2014).
A selection of my journal articles and book chapters can be downloaded here.