You are here: Home Events Nijmegen Lectures 2011 (January 9-11, 2012) Lecturer and Discussants

Nijmegen Lectures 2011 (January 9-11, 2012) -

Lecturer & Discussants

This year's lecturer Nicholas Evans is Professor of Linguistics in the College of Asia/Pacific, Australian National University. He has carried out wide-ranging fieldwork on languages of northern Australia and Papua New Guinea, and the driving interest of his work is the interplay between documenting endangered languages and the many scientific and humanistic questions they can help us answer. In addition to grammars of two Aboriginal languages, Kayardild and Bininj Gun-wok, dictionaries of Dalabon and Kayardild),  edited collections on a number of linguistic topics, and over 120 scientific papers, he recently published the widely-acclaimed crossover book Dying Words: Endangered Languages and What They Have to Tell Us which sets out a broad program for the field's engagement with the world's dwindling linguistic diversity. He has also worked as a linguist, interpreter and anthropologist in two Native Title claims in northern Australia, and as a promotor of Aboriginal art by the Bentinck Island women’s artists.

The discussants of January 9

Balthasar Bickel's core interest is the worldwide distribution of linguistic diversity. This involves the development of variables that allow measuring diversity, the formulation of theories explaining the distribution of these variables, and the study of the relationships of linguistic distributions to (biological) genetic diversity as well as to cultural and cognitive diversity. The methods used in this research range from the statistical analysis of typological databases to ethnolinguistic fieldwork and experimental methods. Balthasar got his graduate training in the Cognitive Anthropology Group at the MPI in Nijmegen in the early 90s. After post-doctoral research in Zurich, Mainz and Berkeley he completed his habilitation in 2001 and was awarded an extracurricular professorship by the Swiss National Science Foundation. Between 2002 and 2011 he was professor of linguistic typology at the University of Leipzig and in 2011 he took over the chair of general linguistics at the University of Zurich

Michael Cysouw studied Linguistics and Mathematics at the Radboud University of Nijmegen, and obtained his Doctorate in 2001 with the typological dissertation "The Paradigmatic Structure of Person Marking". He then went to Berlin for a post-doc at the Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS), followed by a position as a senior researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. Since 2010 he is the leader of an independent research unit "Quantitative Language Comparison" at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich. Starting in 2012 he will be Professor for language typology and comparative linguistics at the Phillips University Marburg.

The research of Asifa Majid investigates the nature of categories and concepts in language, in non-linguistic perception and cognition, and the relationship between them. I adopt a large-scale cross-cultural approach in order to establish which aspects of categorisation are fundamentally shared, and which language-specific. My work is interdisciplinary, combining standardised psychological methodology, in-depth linguistic studies and ethnographically-informed description. This coordinated approach has been used in my study of the domains of space, event representation and more recently the language of perception. I coordinate the Categories across language and cognition project, a team of 20-odd linguists, anthropologists and psychologists who collaborate on this effort.

The discussants of January 10

Disa Sauter studies the communication of emotions via non-verbal signals, with a particular interest in positive emotions. She did her first degree in Psychology and Cognitive Science at University College London, followed by a PhD in the same department. She then worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, and held an ESRC fellowship at Birkbeck College London. From 2008 to 2011 she was a staff researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen. Disa is currently based at the University of Amsterdam, and holds a Veni grant from the Dutch Science Foundation

Jean-Christophe Verstraete is an associate professor of linguistics at the University of Leuven in Belgium. His research interests include linguistic typology, languages of Cape York Peninsula (Australia), and topics like mood and modality, complex sentences, case systems, information structure and narrative structure. More information can be found at

Jordan Zlatev is Associate Professor in Linguistics, and deputy director of the interdisciplinary Centre for Cognitive Semiotics at Lund University, Sweden. His theoretical research deals with the roles of intersubjectivity and bodily mimesis for grounding meaning more generally, and language more specifically. Empirically, he has been involved in developmental, comparative psychological and linguistic typological research. He is co-editor of Body, Language Mind: Vol 1. Embodiment (2007), The Shared Mind (2008), Studies in Language and Cognition (2009) and Moving Ourselves, Moving Others (in press).

The discussants of January 11

Claire Bowern is Associate Professor of Linguistics at Yale University. Her 2004 PhD is from Harvard University and examined the historical morphology of complex verb constructions in a family of non-Pama-Nyungan (Australian) languages. Her research focuses on the Indigenous languages of Australia, and is concerned with language documentation / description and prehistory. This includes fieldwork in Northern Australia with speakers of endangered languages, as well as archival work, shedding light on the linguistic history of Pama-Nyungan. With colleagues in linguistics, anthropology, and evolutionary biology, she is currently comparing features of hunter-gatherer languages in different areas of the world.

Fiona Jordan is an evolutionary anthropologist with a background in anthropology, biology and psychology (PhD University College London 2007). Her research program aims to understand cross-cultural diversity in human social structure by using theory from behavioural ecology and anthropology and comparative phylogenetic methods from evolutionary biology. Focusing on kinship, she follows the tradition of regional comparison by examining processes of cultural evolution in different language families/areas, particularly Austronesian. By quantifying how kinship terminologies and social norms coevolve, she aims to understand how this apparent diversity in culture and language might be constrained by universal features of human experience.

Peter Trudgill is a theoretical dialectologist who has carried out research on varieties of English, Norwegian, Greek, Albanian, and Spanish. He was Professor of Linguistics at the University of Reading; Professor of Sociolinguistics at the University of Essex; and Professor of English Linguistics at the University of Lausanne. He is currently Professor of Sociolinguistics, Agder University, Kristiansand; Emeritus Professor of English Linguistics at Fribourg University; Honorary Professor of Sociolinguistics at the University of East Anglia; and Adjunct Professor in the Research Centre for Linguistic Typology at La Trobe University. His recent books are New Dialect Formation: on the Inevitability of Colonial Englishes (2004); and Sociolinguistic Typology: Social Determinants of Linguistic Complexity (2011).

Last checked 2018-05-23 by Nanjo Bogdanowicz

Street address
Wundtlaan 1
6525 XD Nijmegen
The Netherlands

Mailing address
P.O. Box 310
6500 AH Nijmegen
The Netherlands

Phone:   +31-24-3521911
Fax:        +31-24-3521213

Public Outreach Officer
Marjolein Scherphuis