About me


Language Acquisition

The question my work addresses is which derivations are available to the language-acquiring child. What is the nature of children's sentence representations and how are they processed online? I explore this by using both off-line and on-line experimental methods. Some current projects (with various collaborators) include children's meaning representations of sentences with unaccusative and passive verbs, children’s interpretation of implicit and explicit existentially quantified arguments, children’s production of negative questions, scope assignment, and children's understanding of sentences with quantifiers each and all. Previous work studied children's acquisition of Dutch raising-verbs (and their evidential semantics), and children's processing of unaccusative verbs. Here are some references and downloadable papers on acquisition.

Scope Assignment:

A review article comparing a biolinguistic and a usage-based perspective to language acquisition (with Stephen Crain and Rosalind Thornton):

The acquisition of passives (with Nina Sangers and Ken Wexler):

The relation between syntax and the lexicon: An acquisition perspective:

The acquisition of unaccusativity:

The acquisition of raising-verbs:

The acquisition of binding: Comparing different perspectives:

Language Processing

The main focus of my work is on how the linguistic computations we hypothesize are reflected in processing and how this can best be measured. I showed that the Visual World Paradigm can be used to detect reactivation effects of arguments of verbs during procsesing, with a different timing of reactivation for arguments depending on their position in the structure. We now showed this in both English and Dutch, and in adults as well as children (for more detailed information, see the papers below). This is a valuable tool that I hope to use to tease apart competing theories about the underlying structure of particular linguistic expressions. The great advantage is that it is non-invasive and can be used with populations that cannot provide overt acceptability judgments. The collaborators on these projects include Pim Mak, Eric Reuland, Iris Mulders, and Hans van de Koot.

The relation between grammar and the parser:

Structural priming:

Processing unaccusative verbs:

Dutch raising-verbs, their evidential semantics, and acquisition

These papers discuss the Dutch raising-verbs schijnen and lijken ('seem'). Even though they appear very similar, a closer look at these verbs reveals their differences in the source of information they encode as well as their distributional properties. Interestingly, these differences correspond to a difference in the timeline of acquisition.

The syntax of idioms

For a little less than a year, I was part of a project on the syntax of idioms. As part of that project, I investigated the question what linguistic tools can trigger idiomatic meanings. In particular, I looked at the pragmatically unlicensed use of the definite determiner as a way to trigger idiomaticity.

PhD Thesis

My PhD thesis (Utrecht University, April 2013) combines the various angles of research discussed above. I looked at several structures that involve displacement: sentences with unaccusative verbs and subject-to-subject raising and studied those structures from a theoretical, processing, and acquisition perspective.