Universiteit Leiden

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Egbert Fortuin

Professor Russian Language and Linguistics

Prof.dr. E.L.J. Fortuin
+31 71 527 6416

Egbert Fortuin is a University Lecturer of Russian Language and Linguistics.

More information about Egbert Fortuin

Egbert Fortuin was Vice Dean of the Faculty of Humanities from 2015 up until 2019.


My research focuses on semantics, syntax and pragmatics, and in the interaction of these domains. Even though my primary focus is on Russian, I am also interested in comparative semantics, syntax and pragmatics. I have worked extensively on the following topics:

  • Semantics and pragmatics of constructions:
    • Imperatives
    • Conditionals
    • Infinitive constructions
    • Modal constructions
    • Word order and syntax
    • Degree constructions
    • Double negation and constructions
    • Modal particles
  • Verbal aspect:
    • Russian aspect
    • Slavic aspect
    • Comparative aspect


  • Russian grammar (BA-1, and BA-2)
  • Russian linguistics (BA-3)
  • Introduction to Slavic linguistics (BA-1)
  • Semantic approaches to syntax; Slavic verbal aspect (MA)
  • Philosophy of Science (BA; core course)
  • Culture by Area, Russia (BA-International Studies)

Academic positions

  • Associate professor, Russian Language and Linguistics, Leiden University (LUCL)
  • Director of Studies, Leiden University Centre for Linguistics (LUCL) (2009-2014)

PhD students

Jaap Kamphuis (Verbal aspect in Old Church Slavonic), Simeon Dekker (Voices on birchbark: Reconstructing the pragmatics of Old Russian birchbark letters)

Key publications

Fortuin E. Universality and language-dependency of tense and aspect: performatives from a cross-linguistic perspective. To appear in Linguistic Typology.

Fortuin E. & Geerdink H. Universal Semantic Syntax. A Semiotactic Approach. To appear in Cambridge Studies in Linguistics 160. Cambridge University Press

Fortuin E. & Boogaart R. (2009), Imperative as conditional: From constructional to compositional semantics, Cognitive Linguistics 20(4): 641-673.

Fortuin E. (2000), Polysemy or monosemy: Interpretation of the imperative and dative-infinitive construction in Russian. ILLC Dissertation Series.

Recent research projects

1. Universal Semantic Syntax (Egbert Fortuin, Hetty Geerdink-Verkoren)

This project focuses on the study of syntax from a semantic point of view.  Semiotactics is a theory that aims to analyse and help explain semantic-syntactic structures of individual languages. However, because of its universal basis, it can also serve as a starting point for cross-linguistic comparison. Cross-linguistic comparison presupposes that there is a basis for comparison to start with, such as descriptions in a standardized format and a clear classification of the various methodological statuses of linguistic concepts: which relations and units are universal and which are language-specific? The semiotactic theory is advocated in our new book Universal Semantic Syntax, A Semiotactic Approach, which is a comprehensive introduction into this theory, which combines both syntax and semantics. What makes it unique is that it provides a comprehensive way of both analysing and formalizing linguistic constructions across languages. With this work, we hope to encourage linguists working with other languages to analyse various constructions in these languages by using the semiotactic approach, and to discover whether, and if so how, the theory could be further extended and if necessary adapted.

2.  Comparative verbal aspect. This project focuses on verbal aspect and tense from a cross-linguistic perspective. Current topics are the tense, aspect and modality of performatives and the relation between aspect and habituality. 

Professor Russian Language and Linguistics

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Leiden Univ Centre for Linguistics
  • LUCL Slavisch

Work address

Reuvensplaats 3-4
2311 BE Leiden
Room number 1.32


  • Nederlands Instituut in Sint-Petersburg Lid adviesraad
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