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Maarten Kossmann appointed as professor for Berber Studies

The University Executive Board has appointed Maarten Kossmann as professor for Berber Studies as of April 1, 2017. The Leiden University Centre for Linguistics management team would like to congratulate Maarten with this appointment, which will strengthen LUCL’s descriptive linguistic research in general and particularly the field of Berber. Maarten's inaugural lecture will take place on Monday, November 13, 2017.


Maarten Kossmann is specialised in Berber, a language group rooted in northern Africa and the Sahara desert. Speakers of Berber can be found as large minorities in Morocco, Algeria, Mali, and Niger, and smaller groups of speakers live in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Burkina Faso.

Already during his undergraduate studies, Kossmann started to work on Berber. His dissertation (Leiden 1994) was a linguistic description of Figuig Berber in eastern Morocco, a region that has been a focus of his interest ever since. Kossmann’s work covers various subjects, most importantly language description, historical reconstruction, and the history of language contact between Berber and other languages (dialectal Arabic, Hausa, Songhay). Kossmann has also worked extensively on oral literature, especially the stylistics of eastern Moroccan oral narratives.

In the Netherlands, a majority of the people with a Moroccan migration background has Berber as their heritage language. In the framework of the European project AThEME (Advancing The European Multilingual Experience), Leiden University hosts a research project on the variety of Dutch as spoken by youngsters with a Moroccan background. Within this research – mainly carried out by dr. Khalid Mourigh – Kossmann has taken up the subject of Moroccan Dutch in computer-mediated communication.

Lately, the Dutch Institute Morocco (NIMAR) has become integrated into Leiden University. Kossmann hopes to be able to contribute to the success of this institute in the years to come.

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