Universiteit Leiden

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Paul Noorlander


Dr. P.M. Noorlander
+31 71 527 2727

Fields of interest

  • Historical linguistics, especially historical syntax
  • Neo-Aramaic, especially Eastern varieties
  • Language contact
  • Comparative Semitics
  • Alignment of grammatical relations



I’m specialized in historical linguistics, linguistic typology and Aramaic (also known as Chaldean, Assyrian, Syriac or Surayt) which is still spoken today. Aramaic was once one of the main languages of West Asia from the first millennium BC well into the Islamic period. Nowadays the modern Aramaic languages are highly endangered and spoken in diaspora communities across the globe. Stretching back 3,000 years, they show a fascinating degree of variation and innovations and a unique historical depth. The once vibrant eastern Aramaic speaking area encompassed the Jewish and Christian speech communities of North West Iran, North Iraq, and South East Turkey. The traditional territory is generally known as Kurdistan. Most of them have fled the area in the previous century. 

My research concentrates on clause structure in Aramaic from both a diachronic and synchronic perspective, including ergativity and non-canonical subject marking. I have a keen interest in construction grammar and its applications to clause structure. My research also involves bi- and multilingualism in Kurdistan, contact between Aramaic and Arabic, Iranian, Turkic and Armenian speech communities, and the cultural history of the region.


Curriculum vitae

Postdoctoral Researcher (Leiden University), 2018 – present

PhD in Linguistics (Leiden University), 2011 – 2018
Thesis: “Alignment in Eastern Neo-Aramaic Languages from a Typological Perspective”, supervised by Prof. Dr. Holger Gzella

MPhil in Linguistics, (Leiden University), 2009 – 2011, completed 92 credits in 14 courses towards M.A. degree

MA in Hebrew and Aramaic Languages and Cultures (cum laude, Leiden University), 2011,
Thesis: “Sam’alian in its Northwest Semitic Setting: A Comparative-Historical Approach. A Study of the Linguistic Transition in the Northwest Semitic Inscriptions from Zincirli”, supervised by Prof. Dr. Holger Gzella

BA in Comparative Indo-European Linguistics (cum laude, Leiden University), 2009
Minors: History of the Middle East, Modern Standard Arabic, Biblical Hebrew, Comparative Semitics
Thesis: “In Search of a Correlation: A Comparative Analysis of the -i-aorist, the -áya-formations and the -ya-presents in Vedic”, supervised by Prof. Dr. A. Lubotsky


Conference presentations

  • Prospective and Avertive Semantics in Eastern Neo-Aramaic Dialects in light of Kurdish and Arabic
    (International Symposium on the Perspective as a Grammatical Category: Evidence from Turkic, Iranian and beyond, Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main, organized by Dr. Agnes Korn and Prof. Dr. Irina Nevskaya, Institute for Empirical Linguistics, 23-25 September 2013)
  • Kurdish and Eastern Neo-Aramaic in Contact: Reviewing Some Possible Contact Phenomena
    (International Workshop on Variation and Change in Kurdish, Otto-Friedrich Universität Bamberg, organized by Prof. Dr. Geoffrey Haig and Dr. Ergin Öpengin, Department of General Linguistics, Institute of Oriental Studies, 29-30 August 2013)
  • Neo-Aramaic Alignment in a Historical Perspective: Some Preliminary Remarks
    (Semitics Philology Seminar, University of Cambridge, organized by Prof. Dr. Geoffrey Khan, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, 3 December 2012)
  • Alignment Splits in Eastern Neo-Aramaic
    (Syntax Circle, Leiden University, organized by Prof. Dr. Lisa Cheng, LUCL, 17 February 2012)
  • A Historical Comparative Analysis of Alignment Change in North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic
    (PhD Project Presentation, Leiden University, LUCL, 21 October 2011)


Teaching activities

  • 2014, July: Introduction to Neo-Aramaic (Summer School Course, Semitic Programme)
  • 2013 – 2014: Introduction to Neo-Aramaic Linguistics (Semester II, elective)
  • 2012 – 2015: Aramaic Cultural History (B.A. course in collaboration with Prof. Dr. H. Gzella and Dr. M.L. Folmer)
  • 2012 – 2015: Biblical Hebrew I (B.A. course, occasional fill-in for Dr. M.F.J. Baasten)
  • 2012 – 2013: Introduction to Comparative Semitics (Semester II, elective)


  • Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen
  • Leiden Univ Centre for Linguistics
  • LUCL diversen


  • Geen relevante nevenwerkzaamheden

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