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 examining the articulatory and acoustic detail of sound changes in progress, to refine our insight into what is behind such changes, and also where and how the variation involved should be located in theories of speakers’ knowledge of sound structure. Slightly more succinctly, I’d say I’m a LabPhonologist with variationist tendencies.


Patrycja Strycharczuk and I have recently looked into the question of derived geminates (and the potential resulting degemination) involving Dutch r, using ultrasound data. The resulting article was published in Journal of Phonetics (2018). The results of a pilot study were previously published in Linguistics in the Netherlands (2014) (but please note that the JPhon article supersedes it).

My PhD thesis (2015) was on the large-scale phonetic variation found with Dutch r. In it, 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 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 (2010, see Publications and Presentations), and they are also discussed in my thesis.

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.

A bit further into the past is my work with Bert Botma and Dick Smakman (University of Leiden). We looked into the effects of Dutch syllable-final dark l [ɫ] on preceding mid vowels, the phonetic detail of 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 (2012).

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