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Stephen C. Levinson -


Current and former positions

Director (emeritus), Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics (1994-2017), Managing Director (1998-2001, 2007-2008)

Research Fellow, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour (2010-)

Professor of Comparative Linguistics at the Radboud University Nijmegen (1995-)

Lecturer, then Reader, University of Cambridge, Dept. of Linguistics (1975-1994)

Head, Max Planck Cognitive Anthropology Research Group, Berlin (1989-1991) and Nijmegen (1991-1998)

Research fellow, Australian National University (1982-1983)

Visiting Associate Professor, Stanford, Linguistics Department & CSLI (1987-1988)

Director of Studies, Archeology & Anthropology, Emmanuel College, Cambridge (1978-1980)

Education, Scholarships and Research Fellowships

University of Cambridge, 1967-1970: BA in Social Anthropology, First Class Honours

University of California, Berkeley, Special Career Fellow 1970-1975, MA Linguistic Anthropology 1973

LSA Fellowship, Fellowship from Mathematical and Social Sciences Board, 1973

Doctorate in Linguistic Anthropology, 1977 ("Social Deixis in a Tamil Village")

Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore, 1974, Visiting Scholar

Honours, etc.

Senior Scholar, King's College, Cambridge, 1970; Fulbright Scholarship, 1970

Member of High Table, King’s College, Cambridge, 1975-present

Professor, Linguistic Society of America Linguistics Institute, Stanford University, 1987

Fellow of the British Academy, 1988

The Nijmegen Lectures, 1988

Stirling Prize, American Anthropology Association, 1992

The Stern Lectures, Gothenburg, Sweden, 1998

Professor, Linguistic Society of America Linguistics Institute, U.C. Santa Barbara, 2001

Stanford Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Fellow-Elect, 2001

Member of the Academia Europaea, 2003-present

Hale Professor, Linguistic Society of America, 2009

Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, 2011

ERC Advanced Grant, 2011-2016

Fellow of the Cognitive Science Society, 2013

Honorary doctorate, University of Uppsala, 2017

Honorary member LSA, 2017

Steering Committees

Faculty Board of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge (1982-1987)

Appointments Committees for University of Cambridge, Radboud University

Foundation Committees, Max Planck Institutes for Evolutionary Anthropology, Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Demography, History of Science

Scientific Council of the Fyssen Foundation, Paris (1996-2001)

Executive Board (from 2000), International Pragmatics Association

Scientific Advisory Committee, Project on Typological Database System, RU Utrecht

Scientific Advisory Board, Gutenberg Forschungskolleg, Mainz (from 2008)

International Board, "Languages of Emotion" Cluster of Excellence, Freie Universität Berlin (from 2009)

Head search committee, Director MPI f. evolutionary Anthropologie (2016-2017)

Advisory Board Cambridge Language Sciences (2018-

Editorial Boards

Sole Editor, Cambridge University Press series, Language, Culture & Cognition

Co-Editor, Mouton de Gruyter Series, Language and Cognitive Categories

Editorial Board, Language Typology

Editorial Board, Current Psychology Letters: Behaviour, Brain & Cognition

Editorial Board, International Pragmatics Association Working Paper Series

Consulting Board of Editors, Cognitive Linguistics

Advisory Board, Encyclopedia of Discourse Studies

Consultation Board, International Pragmatics Association

Editorial Board, Lenguage en Contexto, Universidad de Buenos Aires

Honorary Board, Discourse Studies

Editorial Board, Current Research in the Semantics/Pragmatics Interface

Editorial Board, Spatial Cognition & Computation

Associated Editor Frontiers

Editorial Board, Brill Research Perspectives in Pragmatics

Honorary Board, Journal of Pragmatics


Editorial Board, Cambridge University Press series, Socio-cultural Foundations of Language (until 1998)

Editorial Board, Linguistics (until 1992)

Editorial Board, Journal of Semantics (until 1998)

Editorial Board, Anthropological Linguistics, Oxford University Press (until 2000)

Editorial Board, Cognitive Science, Journal of the Cognitive Science Society

Editorial Board, Language and Cognitive Processes

Consulting Board of Editors, Cognitive Linguistics


Teaching Positions

University of Cambridge, England:
            Assistant Lecturer in Linguistics (1975-1978),

            Lecturer in Linguistics (1978-90), Reader in Linguistics (1991-1994)

Director of Studies, Archaeology and Anthropology, Emmanuel College, Cambridge (1978-1980)

Professor, Linguistic Society of America Linguistics Institute, Stanford University, summer 1987

Visiting Associate Professor, Department of Linguistics, Stanford University (1987-88)

Convenor, Research Seminar on Implicature, Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford, (1987-88)

Economic and Social Research Council: annual course in Linguistic Field Methods for Anthropologists (1982-8)

Professor in Comparative Linguistics, Radboud University Nijmegen (1995- )

Annual MA course ‘Semantics and Pragmatics’ (2007–)

Professor, Linguistic Society of America Linguistics Institute, Santa Barbara (Summer 2001)

Ken Hale Professor, Linguistic Institute Berkely (summer 2009).



Archaeological fieldwork: Greece, 1968; Libya, 1967

Anthropological and Linguistic fieldwork:

(a) South Wales, 1969; Kumaon, India, 1970; Trobriand Islands, 1992

(b) Mayan Indians: Tenejapa, Chiapas, Mexico, Summer 1973, summers 1980, 1990, 1991, winter 1992-1993, summers 1993, 1994, 1995, Tzeltal 2012, 2013, 2014.

(c) Dravidian Indians: Madras, Tamilnadu, S. India 1972; Coimbatore District, Tamilnadu, 1974-1975, 1981; Tribal peoples, Nilgiri Hills, 1992

(d) Australian Aboriginals: Hopevale Mission, Cape York, Queensland, summer 1982; summer/fall 1992

(e) Rossel Island (Papua New Guinea): Summer 1995, Spring 1996, Fall 1996, Spring 1997, Fall 1997, Summers 1998, 1999, Winter 2000/2001, Summers 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016.


Books and Collections

1983. Pragmatics. Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics, Cambridge University Press. 420pp. (Reprinted 7 times, translations in Spanish, Italian, German, Japanese, Chinese, Portugese and Polish.)

1987. Politeness: Universals in Language Usage (with P. Brown). (Studies in Interactional Sociolinguistics 4). Cambridge University Press. (Reprinted December 1987.) 345pp.
(Translation in Japanese 2011).

1992. Space in Mesoamerican languages. Papers from the conference on  Space in Mesoamerican Languages (edited with de León, L.) Special edition of Zeitschrift für Phonetik, Sprachwissenschaft und Kommunikationsforschung, 45(6).  Berlin: Akademie Verlag.

1994. Space in Mayan Languages (edited with J.B. Haviland). Special issue of Linguistics, 32(4/5), 294pp.

1996. Rethinking Linguistic Relativity (edited with J. Gumperz). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 488pp.

2000. Presumptive meanings: The theory of generalized conversational implicature. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press (Bradford Books). 450pp. (Spanish transl. 2004;  Japanese translation 2007.)

2001. Language acquisition and conceptual development (edited with M. Bowerman)  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 435pp.

2003. Space in  language and cognition. Cambridge: CUP. 389pp. (Chinese translation 2006)

2006. Evolution and Culture (edited with P. Jaisson). MIT Press.
2006. Grammars of Space (edited with D. Wilkins). CUP.

2006. Roots of Sociality (edited with N. Enfield). Berg.

2007.The Typology and Semantics of Locative Predicates: Posturals, Positionals and other Beasts. Positionals. The state of the art. Special issue of Linguistics 45 (5/6) (edited with F. Ameka). 

2012. Language, Thought and Reality (collected papers of /Benjamin Lee Whorf). New edition, MIT Press (edited with P. Carroll & P. Lee).

Last checked 2018-10-09

Stephen C. Levinson

Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
PO Box 310
6500 AH Nijmegen
The Netherlands