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I am a researcher and teacher with a passion for African languages and linguistics, currently as Senior Lecturer at the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics, and leader of the Vidi project Bantu Syntax and Information Structure. I want to understand what our human language ability is in the broadest sense, and I want to understand Africa through its languages. I believe this is best done through collaborative research. In my teaching and outreach I aim to spark enthusiasm for African languages and linguistics, interactively making students think critically about bigger questions.

In my research I aspire to find out what determines how we express ourselves, and what that tells us about human cognition and interaction. What we say is in part determined by fixed grammar rules, but equally shaped by our interaction with others. Which aspects of meaning and interaction can become part of the grammatical system of particular languages, and language in general? Gaining insight from African languages is essential in this quest to arrive at a truly encompassing model of human language and cognition. The interface between morphosyntax and pragmatics, and particularly the cross-linguistic variation in this area, keeps fascinating me. 

In other roles I am active as Secretary of the Algemene Vereniging voor Taalwetenschap (AVT), editor of Stemmen van Afrika, and member of the steering committee of the Leiden African Studies Assembly (LeidenASA).

I would describe myself as a self-motivated, sensitive, practical idealist and puzzle solver, recognising traits of the Myers-Briggs ESTJ and ISTJ types.