Pieter Muysken, born in Oruro, Bolivia, in 1950. Ph.D. from the University of Amsterdam. Professor of Linguistics at the Radboud University Nijmegen.
Fellow (1 February 2006 – 30 June 2006)
This semester I worked on a volume called Functional Categories, to be published by Cambridge in early 2007. It is a nineteen chapter long overview of the fate of small words: (such as the, is) and endings (-ing, -ed) in a number of language domains ranging from speech errors (elements are not easily interchanged) to language history (elements are stable), from language contact (not easily borrowed) to second language acquisition (only gradually acquired). The method used can be described as ‘multiple case study’: I try to look at a wide variety of languages and language settings. In the conclusion I turn to the vexing but challenging issue of Language Evolution: what do functional categories contribute to language? Although it was impossible to get away from my research group in Nijmegen completely, I was able to profit from the relative quiet of NIAS and explore various remote corners of my discipline, and enjoy the vigorous debates within in my Theme Group to retain at least some coherence and rigour.