Research interests

I’m interested in (socio)phonetic variation and sound change, and their implications for theories of phonological knowledge and the phonetics-phonology interface. I especially enjoy looking into the articulatory and acoustic particulars of phenomena such as lenition and deletion (and any variation associated with them), with a view to refining our insight into what drives these processes, and where they should be located in theories of speakers’ knowledge of sound structure. Slightly more succinctly, I’d say I’m a LabPhonologist with variationist tendencies.

Recent work

My PhD thesis is on the large-scale phonetic variation found with Dutch r. I develop a model of progressive sound change to explain the origins, development and current status of Dutch r variation. To untangle the geographical, social and linguistic factors involved, I have collected and analysed data from some 400 speakers (~20.000 tokens) in the Netherlands and Flanders. With Jim Scobbie at Queen Margaret University (Edinburgh) I also collected a small-scale corpus of articulatory (ultrasound) data on Dutch coda approximant r, an innovative variant. The results of this study have appeared as a book chapter (see Publications and Presentations), and they are also discussed in my thesis.

With Patrycja Strycharczuk, I’ve looked into the question of r-allophony involving Dutch approximant r with a follow-up study, also using ultrasound data. The results were published in Linguistics in the Netherlands in October 2014.

I also have non-r-related interests: one is voicing in Dutch, in particular that related to past tense allomorphy. Dutch speakers sometimes select a prescriptively incorrect allomorph for the regular (‘weak’) past tense (see Ernestus & Baayen 2001,2003,2004). In a recent study of the production and perception of the past tense forms, Patrycja Strycharczuk and I found many mismatches between the rule-based predicted realisations and those actually produced, as well as considerable phonetic overlap in the production of voicing in these forms, and effects of lexical neighbourhood and frequency.

Less recently, I looked into the effects of Dutch syllable-final dark l [ɫ] on preceding mid vowels with Bert Botma and Dick Smakman at the University of Leiden We uncovered some of the phonetic detail of these effects (which had been poorly understood), and contributed to a long-standing debate in Dutch phonology on the classification of the vowel system. The results were published in Laboratory Phonology in 2012.

In 2011, I worked as a researcher at the Meertens Institute, on Taalportaal, which is on its way to becoming a comprehensive description of the grammar (syntax, morphology, phonology) of Dutch and Frisian. My contribution concerns the phonetic particulars of the sounds of Dutch.