This page provides an overview of the research expertise of all tenure track and tenured GaP members.
For an overview of our current PhD students and their expertise, see Current PhD students.
My research is primarily informed by a cognitive-functional and usage-based approach to language, combined with a pragmatic focus on the analysis of actual language in use, mainly via the use of corpora. My main interests include tense/aspect/modality (in a variety of languages), the interface between grammatical constructions and pragmatics, and cognitive and “constructional” theories of grammar.
TechniqueI have experience in the analysis of (written/spoken) corpora, including in languages other than English (e.g., pidgins/creoles), for the purpose of extracting meaningful patterns of use, in particular with regard to the use of grammatical constructions. I am also familiar with semantic analyses in a variety of linguistic frameworks, including Cognitive Grammar and Construction Grammar.
UsersResearchers in (applied) linguistics, including in such domains as language acquisition and learning, language disorders, anthropology/ethnography, organization studies, forensic linguistics, etc.
General linguistics, Semantic change, English language, Corpus linguistics, Pragmatics, Tense/aspect, Cognitive grammar
De Mulder Walter
The central question of my research is how language users can constitute a representation of the world (or other fictive worlds) in and through their use of language, how they can refer to elements of the world (or fictive worlds) and how they can communicate about it. To answer these questions, I conduct or (mainly with respect to (iv)) develop research into (i) the meaning and use of expressions that contribute to reference or (as I prefer to call it) to the constitution of the world (or fictive worlds): - (mainly) French definite articles and demonstratives - (mainly) French markers of tense, aspect and mood - (mainly) French spatial prepositions (ii) theories of meaning and reference and on the relationship between the two, and more in particular on cognitive and semantic/pragmatic theories about - the “flexibility” of meaning - metaphor - implicatures (iii) the historical development of the expressions referred to under (i), amongst others within the framework of approaches to grammaticalization and theories of historical semantics (Blank, Koch, Geeraerts, etc.) (iv) more concrete applications, amongst others by looking into - the “framing” of messages - contextualisation and intertextuality - the application of (cognitive/usage-based) linguistics in teaching language (and linguistics)
TechniqueStandard research methods in linguistics
UsersLinguists and other uses who are professionally or by their research interested in language and meaning.
General linguistics, French language, Semantic change, Linguistic meaning and interpretation
De Wit Astrid
I am a cognitive linguist with a keen interest in the semantics of grammatical constructions, primarily within the domain of tense, aspect and modality. Why, for instance, do speakers of Dutch prefer to say "Zit niet zo te zeuren" rather than "Zeur niet"? Or how come McDonald's chose "I'm loving it" as a slogan rather than "I love it"? What do these observations reveal about the function of language as a social and communicative toolkit? What is their cross-linguistic relevance? And in what way do our grammatical choices reflect general cognitive principles? In order to address these questions, I study natural-language data from a variety of languages, including (varieties of) English, Dutch, French and Slavic languages, both from a contemporary and a historical perspective. I model my analyses within a cognitive-semantic and cross-linguistically informed theoretical framework.
TechniqueCorpus linguistics Native speaker surveys Fieldwork
UsersStudents Language teachers Researchers
General linguistics, English linguistics, Tense and aspect
1) Linguistic (distributional, semantic, pragmatic) analysis of mainly French data : evidential and epistemico-modal markers (tenses, verbs, prepositions, adverbs, ...), reported speech markers, tenses (modal-evidential uses of the conditional, futur tense), spatial prepositions, pairs of synonyms. 2) Epistemological and methodological study of linguistic notions (and there mutual relations) like : evidentiality and epistemic modality (notional differences, identification criteria for markers), enunciative commitment (conceptions), dialogism or linguistics polyphony (theories).
UsersFrench linguists, journalists, students
French language, Commitment, Modality, Prepositions, French linguistics, Polyphony, Evidentiality
1. Linguistics Analysis Analysis and description of grammatical phenomena, especially in the grammar/discourse interface (discourse markers, reference markers, conversation structure). 2. Foreign language teaching Syllabi and curriculum design of Spanish as a foreign language courses. Creation of Spanish as a foreign language learning materials, both textbooks and audiovisual materials (Difusión, SGEL). Creation of reference grammars for specific language users (Difusión). 3. Academic and Professional discourse Syllabi design of Academic and Professional Spanish courses (legal, tecnological, business). Creation of Academic and Professional Spanish learning materials (Ariel, Edicions UOC). Diagnose of discourse pathologies for specific professional groups (legal, tecnological). 4. Critical Discourse Analysis Linguistic analysis of socially relevant phenomena, with special interest in sex and gender.
TechniqueQualitative corpus analysis (written, spoken, learners corpus, professional discourse corpus).
UsersResearchers in different areas (especially Social Studies) in which discourse analysis can be an analytical tool. Professionals of different areas who need assistance on writing skills. Professionals of foreign language teaching (publishers, language schools, teachers).
Discourse particles, Grammar, Language for specific purposes, Communication skills training, Language acquisition, Language teaching, Discourse, Discourse analysis
- Corpus linguistic expertise with respect to the use of modal verbs, future auxiliaries and aspectual markers in German, English an Dutch. - Various aspects of German grammar (from a descriptive perspective) - German grammar teaching - Gender (in its different meanings: Genus, Sexus and social gender) and language
UsersJournalists, other researchers, students of German
Aspect, German linguistics, Modal verbs, Modality, Corpus linguistics, Linguistics, Teaching, Corpus-research
Diachrony of Dutch and other Germanic languages, with main focus on semantic change in the domain of modal exspressions. Semantic analysis of modality and related categories.
General linguistics, Dutch linguistics, Semantic change
Language change. Broad expertise on, mostly, English (all periods, both at the aggregate level and that of individual mental grammars), but also (selectively) Dutch, German, French, and language change generally. Quantitative and qualitative corpus methods, including scripting (Perl), concordancing software, statistics (R), best practices.
TechniqueLanguage change is researched by processing and analyzing actual language use: compilation of balanced/representative corpora, retrieval of data by means of regular expressions or parsing, analysis of retrieved data along various functional/semantic and formal parameters (both manual and automated), development of customized research to answer specific theoretical challenges.
UsersLinguists, members of the Digital Humanities community, historians, literary scholars.
Historical linguistics, English language, Grammaticalisation, Corpus linguistics, Philology, Cognition, Cognitive grammar
I. Educational Sciences (1) German and English Teaching Methodology: German and English as a Foreign Language (DaF, TEFL) (2) (Foreign Language) Teaching : differentiation, e-learning (CALL) II. Linguistics (1) Applied linguistics (2) Variational linguistics
TechniqueResearch methods in Education and Applied Linguistics: - qualitative and ethnographic research (observation, interview, CA, grounded theory) - case studies - (quasi-)experiments - meta-analysis and reviews - action research - mixed methods Research Methods in Variational Linguistics: - Empirical Research: survey, interview - Corpus Analysis
Users- Teacher Educators - Language Teachers and Learners - (Applied and variational) Linguists
Language variation, Foreign language learning, Applied linguistics
Jennifer Thewissen specialises in learner corpus research and second language acquisition. She actively researches the concept of accuracy and its development across proficiency levels (https://uclouvain.be/fr/instituts-recherche/ilc/accuracy-across-proficiency-levels-a-learner-corpus-approach.html). Using error-annotated learner corpus data from different mother tongue groups at different proficiency levels (from B1 to C2), she has shown that learners' errors do not de facto necessarily decrease as proficiency increases but that different error types develop differently across the proficiency groups. This research has concrete implications for the language teaching and testing fields as empirical findings about accuracy profiles at different levels can be fed into the current Common European Framework descriptors of language competence which are labelled as overly vague. To gain further insight into learner language development, Jennifer Thewissen is currently investigating the development of syntactic and lexical complexity across proficiency levels to (1) determine whether these constructs help discriminate between learner writing at different levels and (2) analyse how they interact with the construct of accuracy.
TechniqueTechniques associated with corpus linguistics: - learner corpus compilation - learner corpus analysis - learer corpus annotation - error annotation
UsersTarget groups: - Language teachers - Language testers - Second language acquisition experts - NLP specialists - Textbook developers - Language learners
Learner corpus research, Accuracy, Proficiency levels
Expertise can be provided for the analysis and evaluation of communicative processes in any institutional context (education, business, social service centers, courtroom proceedings), in particular when an intercultural dimension is involved.
Technique- Documentation center is accessible for research purposes - Conceptual analysis.
Users- Education - Business - Social service centers - Courtroom proceedings
International communication, Language and ideology, Sociolinguistics, Intercultural communication competence
van der Auwera Johan
Description and explanation of elements of grammar (English, Germanic languages, European languages, all languages)
TechniqueGrammar mining, close reading, elicitation, questionnaires, corpus analysis