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Clackson is the Professor of Comparative Philology at the Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge, and is also a Fellow and Director of Studies, Jesus College at Cambridge. He was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize in 2001. He is currently the editor of the Transactions of the Philological Society, the oldest scholarly journal devoted to the study of language that has an unbroken tradition.
Clackson studied at Cambridge under Robert Coleman; his Ph.D. thesis served as a basis for his 1994 book The Linguistic Relationship between Armenian and Greek. His research interest include ancient Languages of the Italian peninsula (Latin, Sabellian, Etruscan), Indo-European linguistics, Latin linguistics, Greek linguistics and Armenian.
Clackson is the current Secretary of the Friends of the Parish of the Ascension Burial Ground, where there is a memorial to his first wife, Sarah Clackson, who died in 2003. He is currently married to the sociologist Veronique Mottier.
- The Linguistic Relationship between Armenian and Greek (Oxford, 1994)
- Indo-European Word Formation (co-edited with Birgit Anette Olsen, Copenhagen, 2004)
- The Blackwell History of the Latin Language (with Geoff Horrocks, Oxford, 2007)
- Indo-European Linguistics: An Introduction (Cambridge, 2007)
- A Companion to the Latin Language (editor, Malden MA, 2011)
- Language and Society in the Greek and Roman Worlds (Cambridge, 2015)
- Clackson, J. and Meißner, T. eds, (2002) Nominal Composition in Indo-European Languages. Transactions of the Philological Society, Vol. 100, issues 2-3. 
- Clackson, J. with A. Boud'hors, C. Louis, and P. Sijpesteijn eds, (2009) Monastic Estates in Late Antique and Early Islamic Egypt, Durham: American Society of Papyrologists.
- Clackson, J., (2013) 'The Origin of the Indic Languages: The Indo-European Model' in Angela Marcantonio and Girish Nath Jha (eds.) Perspectives on the origin of Indian civilization, New Delhi, 259-287. Published by Center for Indic Studies and D.K. Printworld (P) Ltd.
- "Dr James Clackson". University of Cambridge. Retrieved 4 February 2011.
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