Memories of Anne Cutler

Portrait of Anne Cutler

This webpage is dedicated to sharing memories of Anne Cutler.

Please feel free to share your thoughts or perhaps add a photograph. As the contributions are moderated, it may take a little while for your text or photograph to be displayed.


Thank you, Anne, for showing us what a truly great scientist should be; powerful yet compassionate, serious yet humorous, supportive yet strong, open-minded but uncompromising - refusing to tolerate sloppiness, nonsense (and bad wine). A truly inspirational role model. You are already very much missed.
Caro Rowland


In 1999, when Anne won the Spinoza price I expressed how proud I was by writing this editorial Spinoza Spinazie in the Max Krant. Now, many years later, fully understanding the impact she had on the field of psycholinguistics and many many people (including me) I am even more proud. Anne, I promise to keep thinking of you everytime I eat spinach! Thank you for everything. 

Spinoza Spinazie

Click to enhance the image.

Petra van Alphen


After an absence of 2 years, we were looking forward to your visit. Unfortunately this was not meant to be.  Thanks Anne for all the unforgettable moments, you will always be in our thoughts.
Team Operations MPI


Thank you, Prof. Culter, for being supportive to early-career researchers like me.
Ricky Chan


"On ne doit rien craindre dans la vie — il suffit de comprendre".

Anne, you sent me this quote when I got my first grant, a Marie-Curie grant. Thanks to you, I understand so much more. It has been such an honour to be part of your (comprehension) group at the MPI, to learn from you, to enjoy conferences with you, to care for your orange tree (that special one), and even to fool you to have sold your house after housesitting (luckily, you had a wonderful sense of humor). You inspired and cared for so many people. Your uniqueness will never be forgotten. Thank you for everything.

Adriana Hanulíková


When I resigned in 2000, Anne invited me to ride with her on a vintage tram in Australia! I should have done so!

Rolf Koenig


I did not know her personally, but I do know some of her work quite well (especially her work on Japanese with Prof. Otake). She was undoubtedly one of the great minds in the field and it is very inspiring to see that she kept on publishing such consistently excellent work for over half a century! I would like to convey my heartfelt condolences to her family for their loss and I am grateful she left us such a great legacy to learn and to cite from.

Rinus Verdonschot


Anne was my supervisor for my Master's dissertation at Cambridge in 1990. I loved cycling over to the MRC APU to run my experiments and my meetings with Anne were always positive and productive. She was fiercely focussed and methodical while at the same time being extremely laid back and approachable.

I bumped into her a couple of times later at conferences and she was always happy to chat. I am very saddened to hear of her death and wish I had made more of an effort to keep in touch. She was a brilliant scientist and a wonderful person.

Andrew Nix


Very sad to hear this. Anne was an incredible leader in the field, not just for her ground-breaking ideas but also for her support and mentoring of younger colleagues and her very pragmatic attitude to getting things done. She will be sorely missed.

Shanley Allen


You may have left us, Anne, but we see you still in the enduring impact you made on so many of our lives. Your infectious passion for science and your dedication to rigour in research. That glint in your eye as you explain the fiendishly clever part of a particularly elegant experiment. The obvious delight you draw from the successes of your colleagues and all those junior scientists that you mentored and guided.

Your unabashed celebration of the wonderful research environment that you helped shape at the Max Planck Institute, balanced by the recognition of how very lucky we are to work in "scientific heaven". Your warmth, humour and generosity, especially in so openly welcoming our family to Nijmegen when we first joined the MPI community over a decade ago.

Your absolute commitment to the finest of wine and the most delicious of cuisine, with handy tips for dining out that always hit the spot. It is so sad that we never got to take you and Bill back to our favourite Nijmegen restaurant for that dinner we owe you. And now we won't know which wine to choose.

Anne, you are a legend, gone but never forgotten.

Simon & Vicky Fisher


So sorry to hear this. I greatly admired Ann's work on rhythm, which I thought was just right. We rarely had a chance to talk, since we only intersected at conferences, but I really enjoyed the few chances we had. She will be missed.

Geoff Nathan


Dear Anne, I was shocked to hear of your passing. I have fond memories of my time in your group and I am very grateful to you for your belief in me, your encouragement and your generous help in getting my academic career off to a start. It ultimately turned out science was not for me, but I have never forgotten what you did for me, nor will I forget. It was a great privilege to be your student.

Evelien Akker


It is unfathomable that Anne has left us. I am deeply grateful for what I learned from her. The impish smile in the photo above captures the unique mixture of humour and scientific seriousness that was Anne. She was truly extraordinary.

Marianne Gullberg


Dear Anne, I'll remember you in many ways: interested in (psycho-)phonetics, in people, in the IJsselmeer, in my sailing ship (called Anna), short: you showed sincere interest in everybody and everything you encountered. I haven't forgotten you and will not forget you. Dear Bill, accept my condolences with the loss of Anne

Toni Rietveld


Thank you Ann, for your amazing legacy, and more especially for your support for women in science.

Ans van Kemenade


Anne, it was a privilege to have known you, and an even bigger one to have worked with you. Your wisdom and guidance were priceless, and your love of good coffee and (even better) wine was legendary. Although you will be sorely missed, your impact on the field will be felt for many years to come.

Evan Kidd


Anne has made a wonderful impact on the field of speech perception, but also on the lives of many of us. As one of her former PhD students I am really extremely proud, happy and grateful for her guidance over the years. While I was initially interested in understanding how infants learn language, she quickly inspired me to better grasp how infants learn their native language, and that these are different questions. She was a loyal and fierce supervisor. She taught me so many things, such as that we as researchers all contribute our own blocks of research, but when viewed in unison, we are actually all building towards a wall of science. (in fact, she made it her tradition to give every PhD student their own tree of academic ancestry, showing that through her we all descended from Wilhelm Wundt).

She always stressed the need to understand what others in our institute are working on to broaden our horizons, to promote our institute, to provide food for thoughts while discussing research with other people on conferences etc, and to search for new links. All meetings were mandatory, and thus provided me with wonderful opportunities for expanding my training on psycholinguistics. Doors were always open, and she expected the same in return. (in fact, she grudgingly allowed me to work a day from home every fortnight, because her department was not the only one I was based at, but if it were…; she was also worried whenever most of her team were off to the same conference, but thankfully she thought not all in the same airplane).

It is sad but also funny to see that her premonitions about what people will say once she would be passed away ring somewhat true (“you’ll see, they say something about me being the first female Spinoza prize winner, while who cares”) but it is undeniably true that she made un unforgettable impression on science (the very first babylab in the Netherlands!) and onour academic careers. I am so sorry for her no longer being here with us, but on the other hand so happy to have been part of her academic family.

Anne Cutler

Click to enhance the image.
Caroline Junge


Dear Anne, when I started as a PhD candidate in Pim's group (with Antje as my second supervisor), you had just started your directorship the year before. You and James kindly invited me to attend the meetings of your research group, and I took advantage as much as I could and learned immensely from you, from James and many other group members - Thank you so much!

After your retirement as MPI director, we continued to meet each other, either in Nijmegen or at ICPhS conferences - the last time in August 2019 in Melbourne. I did not realise that this might have been the last time I see you - and it is very sad that you left the community of psycholinguists so unexpectedly. We will miss you!

I remember the regular parties at your place in Nijmegen and I have a very special memory of a dinner with you and Bill in Surry Hills, Sydney in December 2012 near your apartment after you had just returned to Australia. The evening ended with a glass of desert wine on your balcony. Thank you so much for being such a nice host and for your generosity! Dear Bill, my sincere condolences and "veel sterkte"!

Niels Schiller


This is a huge loss to us all. I first met Anne in the 1990s when she came for a visit to the speech and language therapy department at Newcastle upon Tyne. We subsequently met at various events all over the world and she was extremely welcoming when I visited University of Western Sydney. A lesser known fact is that Anne had worked with Michael Clyne, a giant in bilingualism research, in her earlier career.

Li Wei


Dearest Anne,

I think we met in 1999. I was an MA student in the Language and Speech Group, Radboud University, Nijmegen. You gave a talk on human speech processing in which you bridged to the Language and Speech people who worked on automatic speech processing. Your talk inspired a PhD project proposal that ended up being carried out by me. I remember great discussions in which we spent a lot of time learning each other’s vocabulary. I clearly remember that e.g., the word “activation” had a completely different meaning for you, psycholinguists, and us, speech technology people. I still think these discussions were one of the most important lessons I have learned during my PhD period: interdisciplinary research can only be done when all disciplines share a common language/understanding.

For some reason we never published together. I remember that later, when I joined the Comprehension Group in 2010, we laughed about this and said we really should publish together. It has been on my mind every so many years, but it never happened. I wonder whether I’m your only PhD student who has never published with you?

You have been instrumental to my career in so many different ways: because of your talk and the PhD project proposal that followed, I was able to do the interdisciplinary PhD project on human and automatic speech processing. Without you, I would not have been the interdisciplinary researcher I am today. On many occasions you talked about my research: I have seen you mention my work during talks and a panel discussion at Interspeech 2005 after which my poster suddenly received a lot of attention (while my first two posters hardly had any visitors). I am still so grateful for that! You also gave me a visiting researcher position in 2010, which allowed me to finally learn how to research speech processing in the human brain, and which allowed me to write and obtain the MaxNetAging Grant on lexically-guided perceptual learning in older adults. I learned so much from my 2+ years in the Comprehension Group and later, after you left, the Psychology of Language Group.

Anne, you built an amazing and huge academic family, and I’m honoured that I am part of that family. You taught me so much, about doing research, being a researcher, and how women researchers need to help each other. You’ve been my role model all these years, and I will do my utmost best to help other women in their careers like you did for so many junior researchers.

I will never forget you.

Odette Scharenborg


Dear Anne, it has been more than twenty years that I was one of the postdocs in your group. In these years we had, among others, the first MPI infant experiments. It was an exciting time working together with Peter Jusczyk. Although I mainly worked in pedagogical and educational sciences after our collaboration, the love for language has remained. I am extremely grateful for our collaboration and will always remember your passion, your enthusiastic laugh, your high demands together with a sincere care and attention. Dear Bill, accept my sincere condolences with the loss of your loved one.

Cecile Kuijpers


Anne's impact to the field is most recognized in all the students and colleagues she engaged with in her career - papers, faculty/educators, scientists. In 2014, ISCA recognized her impact to the field of speech communication with the highest honor -ISCA Scientific Medal, but I'm sure her recognition was the impact in her student's lives and careers. Very sorry for her loss - but know her impact will live on in those she impacted in her career for bilingual speech research.

John Hansen (ISCA, UTDallas, USA)


Over the years

August 1968: In Kiel, there was the first Linguistic Summerschool in Germany: twenty professors, forty courses, and more than 100 students, among them a girl with long blond braids, who looked like 18 but was 23. How do I remember her? Pretty, very pretty – that is what you first notice when you are a 22 year old student. Shy – something one would not immediately associate with Anne Cutler; but she would always sit somewhere in the background and never raise her finger. Usually, she was with the group of Gerold Ungeheuer, the eminent phonetician from Bonn, who, I believe, had a strong influence on her thinking. I remember only one chat with her, she told me that she was from Australia and now in Bonn to study German for some time, her German was better than my English.

1982: The institute was two years old, and we had invited her for a stay of a few weeks during which she lived at my house at the Hazenkampseweg. We used to have breakfast together, but our breakfast routines were totally different – I just ate and drank what came to my mind (and was somewhere in the kitchen), she was perfectly organized: she had brought her own little tea pot with her, because it held precisely as much tea as she needed, and she always ate half a grapefruit. She often borrowed my bike. When she came home from dinner the very last night, she fell around my neck and began to cry: bike stolen. I said: ah, that’s just a popular sport, the bike is old, let us steal another one; she bought one.

Around 2008: The driver brought her, Bill and me somewhere, and we had a chat about the future of the institute and about our own retirement that was slowly but inevitably approaching. Since I knew how much she liked to be in the Netherlands and at their big house at the Sophiaweg, I asked her whether she felt enough at home to stay here or would rather go back to Australia. She pointed to Bill and said: “Home is where he is.”

2012: Her very straight style (you know what I mean) was very different from my own, and so, once in a while, a little conflict was inevitable. It never lasted. Still, I was deeply, deeply touched when I read the dedication for me on her masterpiece:

Dedication Anne Cutler








Oh, Anne!

Wolfgang Klein


Thank you, Anne, for the clarity of vision, and the inspiration. As an UG student in the 80s, in a country far away, across the Atlantic, I would read your papers and marvel at your ideas. Later on, I would meet you at international conferences, and enjoy your talks at symposia. What a marvelous contribution to science, what an extraordinary person.

Claudia Uller


Dear Anne,

I'm so shocked and saddened by your sudden departure. We had known each other for such a long time and collaborated on various (still unfinished) projects, that it's hard to appreciate that I'll not be catching-up with you at various events around the world in the time to come. We never did finish our book (mainly my fault) - "Spoken Language Processing by Mind and Machine" - but we did manage to present our material as Interspeech tutorials.

However, I will mainly miss you as a friend. My family fondly recalls our stay in Nijmegen some years ago. You found a house for us (in Weurt), gave us a tutorial on how to pronounce "Weurt", provided us with bicycles, and invited us round for many dinners. In fact our one-year-old son learned to walk in your kitchen area, much to our collective amusement. A few years later, we all travelled together on that amazing tour of China after ICSLP in Beijing. And more recently, you provided me with much-needed support through a very difficult personal situation.

It was a privilege knowing you, and you are already dearly missed.

Moore and Cutler


Roger K. Moore


I remember Anne with both respect and affection. She was always alert to the cutting-edge (Cutler was the right name for her) of both research and theory, probing new areas and topics of investigation. Her infectious smile, the twinkle in her eye, motivated and encouraged people. As Chair of the Fachbeirat for many years, I followed her work closely; we always gave it the highest ratings.

The warm hospitality that she and Bill offered in their beautiful big home are unforgettable. My heart goes out to him. She was generous to me in my second Sabbatical year at the Institute, 2002-03. I wanted to spend the year in my favorite guest room, where I would have the Institute and its resources available 24/7. She was the Managing Director at the time, and grumbled that she couldn't afford to give up a guest room for a full year. Still, she graciously relented when she saw my enthusiasm and understood my contribution to the Institute. She never objected again. I made that room my home and remember lively chats and lunches with her through the year.

She became fully Dutch and German, mastering the languages, perhaps aided by her deep scientific engagement with the mechanics of speech production and perception. I was happy for her and Bill that, finally, they could return to Australia, where they were establishing a second act with success. It was too early for her to go. She left her mark. Here she was at Melissa Bowerman's birthday celebration in 2002, with Pim and Herb Clark.

Slobin Cutler


Dan Slobin


It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to Anne. We were incredibly fortunate that Anne chaired our Advisory Board with her inimitable intellect, acumen and humour from 2016 to 2022. Her great passion for mentoring and service to her field will be sorely missed. We send our deep condolences to Bill and Anne's family.

Centre for Language Sciences, Department of Linguistics, Macquarie University


May your soul rest in peace. I pray almighty to pay strength to your family to overcome your decision to move away from physical presence to permanent memory.

Mahadeva Prasanna


Dear Anne, you will be missed, and you have touched my (academic) life for the better. Three ways in which you did this regularly come to mind. The first is when I teach my course about meta science and need to give an example of the file drawer problem. To explain students that this is not something new, and not something all scientists were unaware of, I used to quote you saying (at a comprehension group meeting, I am sure): "There are more cross-modal priming results in people's drawers than have ever hit the literature". I've no idea why I remember that so vividly, since I was not into cross-modal priming, and I was only faintly aware of the file drawer problem at the time. Yet, it stuck, and I'm glad it did.

The second one is when supervising my PhDs and I explain to them that it is a job, but that peers, colleagues and supervisors are also often part of one's (extended) academic family. You reminded me more than once about this when you said (for example, when we met at Interspeech and I already left the MPI): "you will always be a member of the comprehension group". That is a rule I try to live by. Third (but not finally), when I listen to my three daughters considering future careers; "primary school teacher, veterinarian, princess, firefighter", I think in the back of my head "managing director at the MPI is also an option". Thank you for all this, and much more.



Dear Anne, you were a great scientist and lovely person, You will be greatly missed. You have singlehandedly supported an entire generation of fantastic scientists through your lab and were a great mentor and inspiration. I am still very grateful for your support during my PhD and postdoc stages and will alway think back on you fondly and will miss seeing you at future conferences and meetings.

Patti Adank


Anne was loved within the International Speech Communication Association (ISCA) society. For many years, senior female researcher met for networking activities at Interspeech, the main conference on speech science and technology. Anne was part of this group of senior researchers. In the past few years, this network of female researchers has grown and we now call ourselves WomenNspeech. Below follow the many responses and memories from different female senior speech science and technology researchers from the WomenNspeech group.

  • My profound condolences. May her soul rest in peace.
    ​- Oumayma Dakkak, Syria
  • This is really very sad news. I have only heard her talks. Did not know her personally. It must be very difficult for you to lose your mentor.
    - Hema Murthy, India
  • Anne will be immensely missed in our community. I’ll always remember her inspiring talks, her enthusiasm, her laughter, most of all, her friendship.
    - Isabel Trancoso, Portugal
  • What terribly sad news. I didn't know Anne well but it was clear that she had a huge impact through her work and personality on people around her and will be greatly missed.
    Heidi Christensen, UK
  • Sad news. Loss of a great member of our community.
    - Maxine Eskenazi, US
  • This is indeed very distressing news. I've known Anne since the beginning of my career, and she was a major intellectual force and a very effective advocate for women in the field. I think that many younger people expected to benefit from her energy and support for a long time into the future.
    - Janet B. Pierrehumbert, UK
  • This is absolutely heartbreaking. She was such a role model for so many of us, and such an important presence at the Max Planck in Nijmegen. Warmest wishes to all of you, and a reminder that we must tell our role models how much we value them when we can.
    - Justine Cassell, US
  • This is truly sad news. Although I didn’t know Anne very well, I remember her character and her talks and contributions in the conferences and workshops, and her work on Native Listening - she was one of the remarkable speech scientists and the community will miss her greatly.
    - Kristiina Jokinen, Finland/Japan
  • This is so so so sad. I knew Anne well just from years back. She was wonderful. And so sorry for her family too.
    - Julia Hirschberg, US
  • Very sad to hear. Deepest condolences.
    - Tara Sainath, US
  • I'm so sorry to hear the news. Anne was truly inspirational.
    - Emily Mower Provost, US
  • I am so shocked and saddened by the news... I do recall her wonderful ISCA medalist talk at IS2014... Our community will miss her greatly.
    - Helen Meng, Hong Kong
  • We lose a great woman, thoughts for her family.
    - Laurence Devillers, France
  • It’s indeed a great loss to our community… I hope she rests in peace.
    - Nancy Chen, Singapore
  • I was very saddened to hear this news. Anne was always so full of vigour. She gave a keynote at the first speech conference I attended (Australian one in Perth 1994) and I still quote from the findings she presented in that talk. When I asked her about it several years later I think she herself had long since moved on! Condolences to her family. I hope her husband is ok. It must have been a great shock.
    - Kate Knill, UK
  • What a shocking and sad news. Anne will be missed. She was such a brilliant and kind person. My sincere condolences to you and to her friends and family.
    - Esther Klabbers, US
  • This was indeed sad and unexpected news. Anne leaves a magnificent legacy in the many researchers she inspired through her research and as a mentor. She will be missed.
    - Jennifer Cole, US
  • So very sorry to hear about Anne. I knew her personally, and she had a large influence on me early in my career, especially while I was living in the Netherlands. She had this wonderful combination of brilliance, clarity, confidence and humor that brought people together and that built our research community. Truly a life to celebrate and honor.
    - Liz Shriberg, US
  • Very sorry to hear about this. I didn't know Anne well, but enjoyed her talks and her lively personality. Very sad for her family and the community.
    - Karen Livescu, US
  • This is very sad news indeed. Anne was unique in so many ways, as others have mentioned. I enjoyed our interactions and learned from her something new every time we chatted! Sincerest condolences to her family and friends and to the scientific community at large. She will be missed. May she Rest In Peace.
    - Abeer Alwan, US
  • Anne was an inspiration to me. I greatly appreciated her scientific contributions, but especially those opportunities that I had to bounce ideas off her. I will treasure those days.
    - Mari Ostendorf, US
  • The loss of Anne Cutler leaves an immense hole in our academic community. I send deepest condolences to Anne’s family, friends, and colleagues.
    - Ann Bradlow, US
  • It saddens me to hear that Anne passed away. I haven't seen her in a number of years, but I enjoyed being around her and hearing her talks. I send my condolences to her family, friends and the many colleagues she touched.
    - Carol Espy-Wilson, US
  • What a tremendous loss to our community. Anne was indeed an inspiration to so many of us in the field, and will be greatly missed. My heartfelt condolences to her husband and all of those who were close to her, and to the great many language scholars who were touched by her in some way.
    - Amy Schafer, US
  • I am very sad about what happened to Anne. She has been very prominent for me when I was an OSU student, since she would come and talk about prosody with us (and with Mary Beckman of course). And I would go and talk to her in the Netherlands and even had the chance to meet her again in Australia, a few years ago, when I was invited to go to her apartment and had a very good time. My greatest condolences to Bill and to all the other very close people.
    - Mariapaola D’Imperio, US
  • This is sad and shocking news indeed. She was larger than life and it is hard to believe she's gone. She will always be remembered for her pioneering work and her spirit. My last memory is her refusing to give a talk for the workshop in honour of Bob Ladd last year -- because she did not like this kind of thing. Instead she prepared and delivered a clever and funny poem to mark nearly 50 years of friendship. R.I.P.
    - Amalia Arvaniti, The Netherlands
  • All of us here at UCL were so shocked and saddened to hear of Anne’s death. She was such a big influence on many of us in Speech, Hearing and Phonetic Sciences, myself included. I was always amazed by how quickly she could get to grips with someone’s research, how much insight and wisdom she had and how compassionate she was (though I admit to initially being somewhat scared of her!). I have fond memories of a couple of trips to Nijmegen to meet Anne, James and everyone at the MPI, and it was always lovely to see Anne at conferences and hear her ideas. I will be tremendously sad to be teaching her work to our students knowing she is no longer with us.
    - Bronwen Evans, UK
  • While Anne was not my PhD advisor, I met her in my earliest days as a graduate student. This was not long after I switched fields from Old Japanese philology to linguistics, so she has been a valuable and much-valued role model, mentor, and advocate for my entire life as a linguist. I have always treasured her humor and willingness to listen to my whacky ideas and to argue with me when we disagreed.

    One of my favorite memories of our arguments is from a visit that she made to Ohio State University back in April of 1997 to give a keynote speech in an Interdisciplinary Seminar on Human Communication, to which I'd been tapped to provide a 20-minute commentary talk. Anne and I had been corresponding about the definition of prosody that she, Delphine Oahan, and Wilma van Donselaar had provided in an early draft of their review article for Language and Speech on "Prosody in the Comprehension of Spoken Language". Bob Ladd (then co-editor of the journal) had objected to the definition of prosody as "suprasegmentals" (as in Lehiste 1970) instead of as "raw organizational structure" (as in Beckman 1986). In my commentary, I presented the case for the Beckman (1986) definition, and there was much lively bantering between us in our talks and the subsequent Q&A. This is an argument that continued for a long time, in a very helpful way that very much shaped my and Bob's subsequent work, and I think Anne's as well.

    But there was another, more immediately consequential argument that we had, about how much information could be packed into a 20 minute commentary. I had prepared 20 slides and Anne said there was no way that I could present that many ideas in 20 minutes. We made a bet where I had to give her a bottle of Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc if I didn't finish in 20 minutes. She lost that bet, but won the argument in the long run as I learned to appreciate the didactic advice she was giving.

    - Mary Beckman, US
WomenNspeech group, International Speech Communication Association


Anne was a highly valued member of the International Speech Communication Association (ISCA). In 2014 she received ISCA's highest honour, the ISCA medal "for charting the variation of speech perception across languages, and for her leadership in the field of speech perception research".

Interspeech is ISCA's flagship conference. Although Interspeech hosts research from speech science and speech technology, the fields are largely distinct. Anne has been instrumental in bridging the two research areas. She was interested in understanding more about automatic speech processing and at the same time she reached out to people from the speech technology field to educate them on human speech processing. For instance, together with Roger K. Moore she gave a tutorial on automatic and human speech processing at one of the Interspeech conferences, which was well-received. Anne really stood at the heart of the ISCA community. We will miss her dearly and are forever grateful for Anne's leadership and for being a role model for so many female researchers.

Cutler ISCA

Click to enlarge the image.

Odette Scharenborg (Vice-president ISCA)


Anne’s value as an experimental psycholinguist was apparent from the very start of her career. Her value as a human being became clear to me when I spent two sabbatical years with her (Sussex and Cambridge). Besides keeping a sharp focus on the main goal – just figure out the empirical facts - she provided unwavering support to her students and her collaborators. Her blunt good humor made these sabbatical years wonderful for me and my family. We miss her.

Chuck Clifton


When I applied for a PhD position at the MPI for Psycholinguistics in 2006, people asked me in which group the position became available. When I told them it was the Comprehension Group, they immediately informed me that this group was led by a passionate and well-known scientist called Anne Cutler. Those same people also let me know that Anne was not only doing great research, but had a very strong personality and would not be afraid to give her opinion. To be honest, that frightened me a little bit.

On the day itself, I was welcomed by Anne’s secretary Rian Zondervan. I remember how friendly she was and learnt later about the special bond between Anne and Rian. Rian brought me to the room where I would meet the committee of which Anne was the chair. I started to feel nervous before my interview, but then I heard Anne singing from the corridor… “Susanne, Susanne, ik ben stapelgek op jou!” by VOF de Kunst ( My nerves disappeared immediately. What an extraordinary welcome! I felt immediately at home and realized even more that I wanted to work here at this renowned institute with this quirky, witty, and wonderful woman. That same day Rian called me… I got the position and could not be happier.

Every Tuesday we had group meetings during which the group members presented their work, practiced their talks to present at conferences, or shared their scientific or personal news. I loved those meetings. Anne was always critical, but at the same time so enthusiastic when novel findings were shared. I recognize this same trait, her enthusiasm was clearly contagious. I was impressed by how quickly she could oversee results and ask the right questions. As group members, we were also fortunate to proofread her outstanding book “Native Language: Language Experience and the Recognition of Spoken Words”. She told us it was tough to write a book. I was happy she shared that she also sometimes struggled. I now often use chapters from her book for my classes on Psycholinguistics.

The last time I saw Anne was at the Workshop on Infant Language Development (WILD) in Potsdam in 2019. I just heard I got tenure at the Radboud University and Anne congratulated me and said with her convincing voice “it was about time!" Anne was always involved and very supportive to all her PhD students and gave me the confidence that I could succeed in science. On the picture you see Anne congratulating me after my PhD defense with such a warm hug.

Dear Anne, thank you for sharing all your knowledge, for guiding me, and inspiring me. Psycholinguistics has lost a legend, but your legacy will be left forever. You were one of a kind and I will miss you dearly. Ik was ook stapelgek op jou.

Susanne Brouwer
Susanne Brouwer


I was one of Anne’s earliest PhD students.

It's difficult to believe we are now without her incisive mind, her wit, her drive. Our thoughts are with Bill.

She leaves a living legacy: her former collaborators, the students she taught, the academics she mentored, and all those that she inspired to try and understand the human faculty of language in which she so revelled.

I remember going into her office once, a long time ago, to find her constructing an amiable message to the secretary, pointing out that a certain typewriter—it must have been—had a defective letter “d". Her goal was to use as many letter d’s as possible. We spent an amusing few minutes finishing off the message.

That was Anne and her love of language.

Richard Shillcock


Anne: indomitable, righteous, outspoken, headstrong, witty, generous, demanding but always supportive, herdswoman of her flock. A no-nonsense woman with a heart of gold.

This is what she wrote after my Dirk had died: "He will always be part of you; I wish you swift progress to the time when the good memories and the funny memories triumph over the terrible fact of loss. All the hugs there are, and stay safe and healthy and strong." I give these words back to Bill.

Pienie Zwitserlood


Dear Anne, it was a shock to hear about your sudden illness and passing away. Thank you for guiding so many young researchers in our field. You will be remembered dearly.

Oliver Müller


When I was in graduate school, the name “Cutler” became synonymous with “psycholinguistics.” As I prepared my dissertation proposal, I tried to read every paper Anne published (a Sisyphean task given how prolific she was). Anne quickly became an academic hero of mine. At Speech Prosody several years later I finally got to meet Anne. At that point I was an Assistant Professor but still in awe of her and still trying to read all her papers. I nervously introduced myself like a fan meeting a rockstar. I told her how much I admired her work and how much her ideas contributed to my development as a nascent researcher.

After my introduction she paused for a second and asked, “Wiener and Turnbull?” I said yes, that was me and my good friend Rory. Anne smiled and her eyes twinkled. For the next 20 minutes she gently told me everything that was wrong with our paper. She knew our study better than I did. “I don’t know why I wasn’t asked to review it… it’s good work, but I hope you can fix some of those problems,” she told me.

Who but Anne Cutler meets someone for the very first time, recalls a paper that person published years ago, and outlines all the problems that reviewers had missed? They say you should never meet your heroes because they will inevitable disappoint you. If your hero is Anne Cutler that was simply not true. Anne was somehow even more brilliant, kind, and supportive in person than she was on paper. We lost a legend.

Seth Wiener


Dear Professor Cutler,

Your book Native listening and other papers have inspired me a lot! I am so honored to have met you in Seoul in 2017. I was deeply impressed by your informative lecture and inspiring comment on my question. Thank you so much for the pioneering and influential research you have done to advance our understanding of speech perception!

Hui Zhang




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