Universiteit Leiden

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Sjef Barbiers

Scientific director /Professor of Dutch Linguistics

Prof.dr. L.C.J. Barbiers
+31 71 527 1637

The central question of my research is: Which syntactic properties do all languages have in common, which properties are variable and which associations are there between these syntactic variables? The goal of this research is to contribute to a theory of natural language that explains the range and limits of syntactic variation.

More information about Sjef Barbiers

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I compare the (morpho-)syntax of Dutch with closely related (dialectal) varieties of Dutch, against the background of what is known about the syntax of natural languages more generally. I combine theoretical, dialectological and sociolinguistic methods. The central hypothesis is that syntactic variation arises from the interaction between a small fixed set of syntactic principles with grammar internal modules such as the mental lexicon, phonological form, logical form and pragmatics on the one hand, and with grammar external cognitive and sociolinguistic factors on the other. More specifically I investigate the relation between the geographic distribution of (morpho-)syntactic variables and syntax as a mental system. I work with the large systematically collected dialect data sets and search and cartographic tools that are online available in DynaSAND, MIMORE and Edisyn. I am particularly interested in the (morpho-)syntax of verbs, auxiliaries and verb clusters, imperatives, focus particles, adverbs, scrambling, numerals,extraposition and syntactic doubling phenomena.  

Curriculum vitae

2016 - Professor of Dutch Linguistics, Leiden University
2000 - 2016 Researcher, Meertens Institute, Amsterdam
2005 - 2016 Professor by special appointment, chair Variation Linguistics of Dutch, Utrecht University
1995 PhD (cum laude), Leiden University; Dissertation: The Syntax of Interpretation.


PhD Supervision

Current PhD projects

  • Caitlin Meyer (UvA) - Acquisition of numerals and ordinals
  • Lotte Hendriks (MI/UL) - Inclusion relations: Verb clusters and verb cluster interruption

Finished PhD projects (promotor and co-promotor)

  • Eefje Boef
  • Jeroen van Craenenbroeck
  • Arantzazu Elordieta
  • Bettina Gruber
  • Mirjam Hachem
  • Marko Hladnik
  • Irene Haslinger
  • Aniek IJbema
  • Marjo van Koppen
  • Marco René Spruit
  • Mark de Vos

Grants and awards

2017 - 2021
Detecting Syntactic Differences Automatically (Leiden University)
2013 - 2017 Maps and Grammar (NWO Vrije Competitie)
2013 - 2017 Language and Number (NWO Horizon; part of Knowledge and Culture)
2015 - 2018 CLARIAH (NWO Roadmap)
2004 - 2010 European Dialect Syntax (EURYI grant, ESF)
2010 - 2011 MIMORE (NWO CLARIN)


Scientific director /Professor of Dutch Linguistics

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

Work address

Reuvensplaats 3-4
2311 BE Leiden
Room number 2.25




  • NWO Lid Domeinbestuur SGW
  • Member scientific advisory board University of Zürich University program Language and Space
  • Lid wetenschappelijke adviescommissie CLUL (Center Linguistic Lisbon University) wetenschappelijk advies aan en over onderzoeksinstituut
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