Universiteit Leiden

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Jenneke van der Wal

Associate professor

Dr. G.J. van der Wal
+31 71 527 3658

Jenneke van der Wal is a researcher and teacher with a passion for African languages and linguistics. She wants to understand what our human language ability is in the broadest sense, focusing on morphosyntax and information structure. She believes this is best done through collaborative research. In her teaching and outreach she aims to spark enthusiasm for (African) languages and linguistics, interactively challenging students to think critically and analytically.

More information about Jenneke van der Wal

Fields of interest

  • Bantu languages
  • Agreement
  • Focus
  • Information structure
  • Syntax
  • Morphology
  • Fieldwork
  • Methodology


With the ultimate goal of contributing to our understanding of what it means to be human, I aspire in my research to find out what determines how we express ourselves, and what that tells us about human cognition and interaction. How we convey information is in part determined by fixed grammar rules, but also shaped by our interaction with others. I investigate which aspects of interaction and meaning can become part of the grammar of particular languages, and of language in general. This question on the interface between morphosyntax and pragmatics keeps fascinating me.

Curriculum vitae 

2020-current Senior University Lecturer at Leiden University
2017-2020 University Lecturer at Leiden University
2016-2017 Lecturer on Linguistics at Harvard University
2011-2016 Research Associate at the University of Cambridge,
on the ERC-funded project ‘Rethinking Comparative Syntax’
(PI Prof. Ian Roberts)
2012-2016 Research Fellow at Darwin College, Cambridge
2009-2011 Post-doctoral researcher at the Royal Museum for Central Africa,
Tervuren (Belgium), on the Interuniversity Attraction Pole
‘Grammaticalization and (Inter)Subjectification’
2004-2009 Ph.D. at Leiden University, Ph.D. thesis ‘Word order and information
structure in Makhuwa-Enahara’ (supervisors Prof. Lisa Cheng and
Prof. Thilo Schadeberg)
2000-2004 M.A. in African Linguistics at Leiden University,
M.A. thesis ‘Lusoga phonology’

Associate professor

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Leiden Univ Centre for Linguistics
  • LUCL T&C van Afrika

Work address

Reuvensplaats 3-4
2311 BE Leiden
Room number 1.25



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