Universiteit Leiden

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Sjef Barbiers

Professor of Nederlandse Taalkunde

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

Oration prof.dr. 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)


Professor of Nederlandse Taalkunde

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

Work address

P.N. van Eyckhof 1
2311BV Leiden
Room number 1.04a


  • Barbiers L.C.J. (2018), Adverbs in Strange Places. On the Syntax of Adverbs in Dutch., Nederlandse Taalkunde 23(1): 57-88.article in journal
  • Barbiers L.C.J. (8 December 2017), De zonnige toekomst van de Nederlandse Taalkunde (Inaugural address. Leiden University Centre for Linguistics (LUCL), Humanities, Leiden). Leiden: Universiteit Leiden.inaugural address
  • Barbiers L.C.J. & Alem A. van (5 October 2017), The case of Dutch and its dialects [Workshop on Case impoverished Germanic. Lund University Oct 5-6] (Lecture).other
  • Barbiers L.C.J. (4 October 2017), On the role of geography in mental grammar research [Kick off meeting SFB 1287 project Limits of Variability in Language: Cognitive, Grammatical and Social Aspects. University of Potsdam, Oct 4] (Lecture).other
  • Meyer C., Barbiers L.C.J. & Weerman F. (7 September 2017), Two systems, one strategy: acquiring ordinals in Dutch and English [Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition (GALA) 2017, Universitat de les Illes Balears, Palma de Mallorca, Sept 7–9] (Lecture).other
  • Barbiers L.C.J. (2017), Kwantitatief 'er' en 'ze', Nederlandse Taalkunde 22(2): 163-187.article in journal
  • Barbiers L.C.J., Koppen M. van & Bennis H. (24 August 2017), Brabantish as a transitional grammar between Flemish and Dutch. Evidence from determiner doubling and subject doubling [Workshop Linguistic Knowledge and Patterns of Variation. Meertens Instituut, Amsterdam, August 24-25] (Lecture).other
  • Barbiers L.C.J., Bennis H. & Dros-Hendriks L. (24 August 2017), Putting verb clusters on the map [Workshop Linguistic Knowledge and Patterns of Variation. Meertens Instituut, Amsterdam, August 24-25] (Lecture).other
  • Meyer C. & Barbiers L.C.J. (22 June 2017), Ordinal variables: acquiring ordinal numerals in Dutch and English. The 11th Mediterranean Morphology Meeting (MMM11) 22 6 2017-25 6 2017 [conference poster].other
  • Barbiers L.C.J. (12 June 2017), The Lexicon in Generative Grammar [Lorentz workshop The Mental Lexicon, Leiden University. June 12-16] (Lecture).other
  • Barbiers L.C.J. (24 May 2017), Geographical Patterns in Syntactic Change [Workshop Nederlab Wetenschappelijke project. Meertens Instituut, Amsterdam, 24 mei] (Lecture).other
  • Barbiers L.C.J. (21 April 2017), Interdisciplinarity of Linguistic Research [PhD Seminar Communicating your research across disciplinary boundaries. University of Groningen, April 21] (Lecture).other
  • Barbiers L.C.J. (20 April 2017), Detecting Syntactic Differences Automatically [Leiden University Centre for Digital Humanities Opening symposium, April 20] (Lecture).other
  • Meyer C., Barbiers L.C.J. & Weerman F. (16 March 2017), "Can kids order a sandwich?'' On (the acquisition of) ordinals in West Germanic [A Germanic Sandwich 2017, Munster, Germany, March 16-18] (Lecture).other
  • Bylinina L., Barbiers L.C.J. & Sleeman R. (3 March 2017), The Typology of Numerals and the Number Line [18th Szklarska Poręba Workshop. Szklarska Poręba, Poland, March 3]. [conference poster].other
  • Barbiers L.C.J. (6 February 2017), Why should I use Linked Open Data for my research? [CLARIAH Workshop Linked Open Data for Linguistic Research. Utrecht, February 6] (Lecture).other
  • Barbiers L.C.J. (2017), Adverbs and Bridges. In: Barbiers L.C.J. (Ed.) A pesky set: A festschrift for David Pesetsky. MIT Working Papers in Linguistics.. 15-24.book chapter
  • Barbiers L.C.J. (2017), Adverbs in strange places, Nederlandse Taalkunde .article in journal
  • Barbiers L.C.J., Bennis H. & Dros-Hendriks L. (2017), Merging Verb Clusters, Linguistic Variation .article in journal
  • Barbiers L.C.J. & Dooren A. van (2017), Modal Auxiliaries. In: Barbiers L.C.J., Dooren A. van (Eds.) The Companion to Syntax.: John Wiley.book chapter
  • Meyer C., Barbiers L.C.J. & Weerman F. (2017), Ordinals are not as easy as one, two, three: The acquisition of cardinals and ordinals in Dutch, Language Acquisition 25(4): 392-417.article in journal
  • Barbiers L.C.J. (2017), Structural dialectology of the Dutch language area. The relations between the grammars of Flemish, Brabantish and Dutch [ICLAVE Workshop 'Is syntactic variation special?' University of Malaga] (Lecture).other
  • Barbiers L.C.J. (16 December 2016), Adverbiale Syntaxis [Dag van de Nederlandse Zinsbouw. UvA, Amsterdam, December 16] (Lecture).other
  • Barbiers L.C.J. (1 December 2016), Restructuring Bridges [31st Comparative Germanic Syntax Workshop (CGSW). Stellenbosch, Dec 1-3] (Lecture).other
  • Barbiers L.C.J. (20 October 2016), Restructuring Bridges [Com(parative) Syn(tax) Meetings. Leiden University, October 20] (Lecture).other
  • Barbiers L.C.J. (14 October 2016), Restructuring Bridges [47th Annual Meeting of North East Linguistic Society (NELS), Amherst, Massachusetts, USA, Oct 14-16] (Lecture).other
  • Meyer C., Barbiers L.C.J. & Weerman F. (5 January 2016), The rule-based acquisition of ordinals: evidence from Dutch and English [LSA 2017 Annual Meeting. Austin, TX, January 5–8]. [conference poster].other
  • Barbiers L.C.J. (2016), Four perspectives on syntactic variation research [LUCL meeting, Nov 2016] (Lecture).other
  • Barbiers L.C.J. (2016), Locating people with their language – An Applied Linguistics Course using linguistic microvariation databases and tools. In: Barbiers L.C.J. (Ed.) Creating and Digitzing Language Corpora. no. 3: Palgrave.book chapter
  • Barbiers L.C.J., Koppen M. van, Bennis H. & Corver N. (2016), Microcomparative Morposyntactic Research (MIMORE). Mapping partial grammars of Flemish, Brabantish and Dutch, Lingua 178: 5-31.article in journal
  • Barbiers L.C.J. (2016), Noord-Brabants tussen Nederlands en Duits. Variatie in de syntaxis van imperatiefzinnen, Leuvense Bijdragen : Tijdschrift voor Germaanse Filologie (999-100): 320-336.article in journal
  • Barbiers L.C.J. (2016), Opposite forces in language. The linguistic work of Hans Bennis, Nederlandse Taalkunde 21(3): 339-354.article in journal
  • Meyer C., Barbiers L.C.J. & Weerman F. (2016), Order and Ordinality. The acquisition of cardinals and ordinals in Dutch. In: Meyer C., Barbiers L.C.J., Weerman F. (Eds.) Proceedings of the 40th Boston University Conference on Language Development.: Cascadilla Press. 253-266.conference paper
  • Universiteit Potsdam Mercator Fellow SFB 1287 Limits of Variability in Language
  • NWO Lid Domeinbestuur SGW
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