You can download my academic CV, including a list of publications, here [pdf]. Below is a brief overview of my work experience.

2018 – present     Assistant professor of Dutch Linguistics, Utrecht University

2015 – 2018         Lecturer, Utrecht University.

2015 – 2017         Postdoc researcher in research project The Syntax of Idioms, Utrecht University

2012 – present     Popular-scientific author, science journalist, science communicator

2011 – 2015         Lecturer, University of Amsterdam

2010 – 2014         PhD candidate, University of Amsterdam. PhD dissertation ‘Transparency in language. A typological study’ defended on January 23, 2015

2007 – 2010         Research assistantships, University of Amsterdam


These are my main publications. For a complete list of publications, visit my university page.

  • Cornips, Leonie, Marjo van Koppen, Sterre Leufkens, Kristin Melum Eide, Ronja van Zijverden (2023). A linguistic-pragmatic analysis of cat-induced deixis in cat-human interactions. Journal of Pragmatics, 217, 52-68.

  • Suijkerbuijk, Michelle, Sterre Leufkens & Marten van der Meulen (2022). De dochter doet een powernap: Definite article possessives with kinship terms in Dutch. Linguistics in the Netherlands 39, 192-208.

  • Leufkens, Sterre (2022). Measuring redundancy: the relation between concord and complexity. Linguistics Vanguard.

  • Audring, Jenny, Sterre Leufkens & Eva van Lier (2021). Small events: verbal diminutives in the languages of the world. Linguistic Typology at the Crossroads 1 (1), 223-256. [online]
  • Seinhorst, Klaas & Sterre Leufkens (2021). Phonetics and phonology in FDG: Interfaces, mismatches, and the direction of processing. In Contreras-García, Lucía & Daniel García Velasco (eds.), Interfaces in Functional Discourse Grammar. Theory and applications. Berlin/Boston: Mouton de Gruyter, 101-126. [online]
  • Leufkens, Sterre. (2020). A functionalist typology of redundancy. Revista da ABRALIN, 19 (3), 79-103. [online]

  • Kaal, Anna, Sterre Leufkens & Jacomine Nortier (2020). Taalwetenschappelijke perspectieven in de les. In Dönszelmann, S., C. van Beuningen, A. Kaal & R. de Graaff (eds.), Handboek Vreemdetalendidactiek. Bussum: Uitgeverij Coutinho, 325-338. 
  • Corver, Norbert, Jeroen van Craenenbroeck, William Harwood, Marko Hladnik, Sterre Leufkens, Tanja Temmerman (2019). Introduction: The compositionality and syntactic flexibility of verbal idioms. Linguistics 57 (4), 725-734. [online]

  • Leufkens, Sterre (2019). Hoe benut je de meertaligheid van cursisten in de NT2-les? De webapp 'Moedertaal in het NT2-onderwijs. Les 37 (209), 30-33. [online]

  • Leufkens, Sterre (2020). A typology of concord (1.0). [Data file and code book]. DOI: 10.24416/UU01-O8ZD60

  • Leufkens, Sterre, Jantien Smit & Margot Mol (2018). Taalverschillen in de klas - Hoe besteed je als leraar aandacht aan de moedertaal van leerlingen in de klas? Tijdschrift Taal voor Opleiders en Onderwijsadviseurs 9 (13), 18-21. [online]
  • Hengeveld, Kees & Sterre Leufkens (2018). Transparent and non-transparent languages. Folia Linguistica 52 (1), 139-175. [online]
  • Leufkens, Sterre & Alex Hebing (2018). Webapp Moedertaal in NT2 (MoedINT2),
  • Leufkens, Sterre (2017). Kijk, in jouw taal doen ze het zo! T1-specifieke problemen in het NT2-onderwijs. Les 35 (204), 26-28. [online]
  • Corver, Norbert, Jeroen van Craenenbroeck, Eefje Boef, Alexis Dimitriadis, Kristel Doreleijers, William Harwood, Marko Hladnik, Sterre Leufkens & Tanja Temmerman (2017). Online Database of Dutch Dialect Idioms (DADDI),
  • Leufkens, Sterre (2015). Transparency in language: A typological study (University of Amsterdam PhD Dissertation). Utrecht: LOT. [online]
  • Leufkens, Sterre (2013a). Time reference in English indirect speech. In J. Lachlan Mackenzie & Hella Olbertz (eds.), Casebook in Functional Discourse Grammar, 189-212. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. [online]
  • Leufkens, Sterre (2013b). The transparency of creoles. Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages 28 (2), 323-362. [online]
  • Leufkens, Sterre (2011). Kharia: a transparent language. Linguistics in Amsterdam 4 (2), 75-95. [online]


My research interests are typology, learnability, complexity, and theoretical linguistics (especially functionalist theory). Important questions that I study are: What makes languages more or less learnable? Can we say that some (parts of) languages are more learnable than others? How is learnability related to properties of the speaker/signer community? How come that features that are relatively unlearnable still exist?

I am familiar and have worked within various linguistic frameworks, Such as Functional (Discourse) Grammar, Generative Grammar, Construction Grammar, and Optimality Theory.

  • 2020 - present: The typology of redundancy

    Redundancy involves the multiple morphosyntactic expression of a single meaning in one phrase or clause, for example in the case of subject-verb agreement and negative concord. It has often been claimed that redundancy is a fundamental characteristic of language, arguably because it offers communicative and cognitive advantages. At the same time, redundancy is argued to be disadvantageous for language users and learners as it violates the principles of economy and transparency. In this research project I investigate 1) which types of redundancy exist in the languages of the world, 2) the cross-linguistic exponence of different types of redundancy, and 3) the communicative and cognitive functions of different types of redundancy. 

    Relevant publications:
    - Paper on typology of redundancy and its functionality (Leufkens 2020)

  • 2017 - present: Moedertaal in Nederlands als tweede taal (MoedINT2) - Mother tongue in the educaton of Dutch as a second language

    Dutch teachers are increasingly confronted with students who do not speak Dutch as their primary language. They often take a Dutch-only approach: the use of students' L1s is discouraged or forbidden in classrooms or even on school property. This is unfortunate, as there is evidence that positive attitudes towards non-Dutch L1s and their use in classrooms are beneficial to students' well-being and language skills. Moreover, if teachers had more linguistic knowledge on their students' languages, they would be able to anticipate negative transfer and make use of positive transfer. In this project, I have developed a web application (Leufkens & Hebing 2018) making typological data accessible to teachers, aiming to help them make better use of the language capital in their multilingual classrooms. 

    Funded by a starting grant from the Dutch National Research Agenda and a preparatory grant by focal area Education for Learning Societies.

    Relevant publications:
    - Paper [Dutch] in professional teacher journal LES (Leufkens 2019)
    - Information website [Dutch] (Leufkens 2017)
    Article [Dutch] by Mathilde Jansen about the project on science communication platform Kennislink 

  • 2015 - 2016: The syntax of idioms

    While most research on idiomatic expressions focusses on lexical items, this project studied functional items in idioms. Even though idioms are non-compoitional by definition, a distinction has been made in the literature between relatively compositional idioms such as 'spill the beans' (where separate figurative meanings can be attached to the verb and the NP) and fully non-compositional ones such as 'kick the bucket'. It has been claimed that the former type is syntactically more flexible than the latter, but this has only been demonstrated for a small group of 'poster child' English idioms. To investigate the matter systematically, an online database of annotated idioms in 13 dialects in the Dutch language area has been built (Corver et al. 2017). Furthermore, speakers of 6 of those dialects have filled out questionnaires on the grammaticality of syntactically manipulated idioms.

    Funded by a collabration grant from the national research organisations of the Netherlands (NWO) and Flanders (FWO).

    Relevant publications:
    - Special Issue of Linguistics on the compositionality and syntactic flexibility of idioms
    - Introduction to Special Issue of Linguistics (Corver et al. 2019)

  • 2010 - 2014: Transparency in language: A typological study

    In this project, 22 languages of the world have been compared on their transparency, i.e. the degree to which they maintain a one-to-one relation between meaning and form. Transparency can be violated by means of redundancy (1M:multiple F), fusion (multiple M:1F), form-based form (0M:1F), and discontinuity (1M:multiple form fragments). This typological study has shown that all languages violate transparency in one way or another, but some do so much more than others. Moreover, non-transparent features are not randomly distributed, but appear in languages according to an implicational hierarchy: while all languages exhibit instances of redundancy, form-based forms are only rarely attested. The dissertation argues that this may be due to different types and degrees of language contact that languages have undergone, since some types of language contact (notably creolization) may result in the loss of non-transparent features. 

    Relevant publications:
    - Paper by Kees Hengeveld and me with new data (Hengeveld & Leufkens 2018)

    - PhD dissertation (Leufkens 2015)
    - Paper on the transparency of 4 creole languages (Leufkens 2013)
    - Article [Dutch] by Mathilde Jansen about my dissertation on science communication platform Kennislink


I teach or have taught academic courses and lectures on the following topics: 

  • Education of Dutch as a second language
  • Language education to newcomers, policies and practice
  • Linguistic theory, introductions to Generative Grammar, Functional Discourse Grammar, and Optimality Theory
  • Introduction to linguistics
  • Language in interaction, relation between language system (information structure, syntax) and user (psycholinguistics)
  • Multilingualism and language contact
  • Science communication, knowledge utilization, societal impact

I have taught Dutch language acquisition classes to international students at University College Utrecht. 


  • 2021: board member of Algemene Vereniging Taalwetenschap
  • 2019 - present: Initiator and organizer of Interframework Colloquium Utrecht,

    a series of colloquia in which linguists representative of different subdisciplines and framework come together to discuss a topic (2019: agreement, 2020: semi-lexicality) and benefit from each others views.

  • 2019: Guest editor of Special Issue of Linguistics on the compositionality and syntactic flexibility of idioms. 
  • 2019: Temporary member of Research Ethics Examination Committee Linguistics at Utrecht University
  • 2017 - present: Lectures for teachers on the role of students' L1s in Dutch education and web app MoedINT2
  • 2010 - present: Peer review of manuscripts for linguistic journals (e.g. Studies in Language, Journal of Linguistics, Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages, Linguistics in the Netherlands)
  • 2012 - present: Board member of Alumni Circle Linguistics of the University of Amsterdam
  • 2011 - 2014: Coordinator of research group Unlearnable and Learnable Languages, University of Amsterdam
  • 2008 - present: Workshop and conference organization (e.g. Studentische Tagung Sprachwissenschaft 2008, closing workshop The Syntax of Idioms 2017)