How did you become a linguist – was there a decisive event, or was it a gradual development?
Strangely enough, this probably has to do with the Second World War. My grandparents, who lived in the south of the Netherlands, hid British pilots whose planes had been shot down in their loft, and my father, who was then very young, developed a love of the English language as a result of talking to these pilots. He became a linguist, and our family became very anglophile. As a result I also became a linguist.
What was the topic of your doctoral thesis? Do you still believe in your conclusions?
Small clauses in English. Do I still believe in the conclusions? The field has moved on, but yes, I think at least some of the conclusions are still valid.
On what project / topic are you currently working?
I’m currently working on -ing clauses in English, and I’m editing the Oxford Handbook of English Grammar.
What directions in the future do you see your research taking?
I’m hoping to do more research with the Diachronic Corpus of Present-Day Spoken English which we developed in the Survey of English Usage at UCL. (DCPSE is a spoken corpus with materials from two different time periods.)
How did you get involved with the Philological Society?
I have been attending PhilSoc meetings since working on my PhD.
Do you have a favourite language – and if so, why?
Well, apart from my native language Dutch, it has to be English.
Minimalism or LFG?
Minimalism. (Strange question, though. Why only these two?)
[We were going for extremes choices…]
Teaching or Research?
Do you have a linguistic pet peeve?
I always think it’s a shame when some linguists seem to have lack of openness towards different approaches to the study of language.
What’s your (main) guilty pleasure?
Looking to the Future
Is there something that you would like to change in academia / HE?
Get rid of tuition fees!
(How) Do you manage to have a reasonable work-life balance?
Yes, fortunately mostly I do.
What is your prime tip for younger colleagues?
Never lose confidence in yourself and keep being passionate about your subject.