teach. write. edit. correct. review. research.

Round Robin (n) A petition in which the signees write their names in a circular pattern. Often used by sailors so that none of the signees could be identified as the ringleader, as a precaution against the severe punishments for disobedience and mutiny.

I believe that in writing, form doesn’t follow function, but form is function. I am a historical sociolinguist, specialised in questions of language standardisation usage and prescriptivism, language attitudes and the standard language, as well as Late Modern letter writing, corpus linguistics and discourse analysis. I  teach writing and presenting in academic English. I am also an editor and reviewer of works on language, particularly English usage and the history of English.

Robin Straaijer


Academic English

Academic publishing uses a specialised genre that requires a specific form of language use known as Academic English. This is useful for those who need to improve their writing (and presenting) skills in Academic English, such as young academics (both native and non-native speakers of English) who are new to this very specific genre, or more established academics who have not published in English before. I will help you master this special dialect of English.


2018 – 2020   Academic Language Programme, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Teaching academic English writing courses for students in a variety of programmes (English Language, Communication Science, Health Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Mathematics, Neuroscience, Economics) at various faculties (Humanities, Sciences, School of Business & Economics).

2017 – 2018   Babel Talen

Teaching academic English writing for students at Utrecht University

  • Writing for publication for Ph.D. candidates at Utrecht University – Spring 2018
  • Academic Writing for medical students at Utrecht University – Winter 2017, 2018

2017 – 2018  Taalcentrum-VU

Scientific Writing in English (MA) for students Health Sciences and Biomedical sciences at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Faculty of Health Sciences – Spring 2017, Spring 2018.

2008 – 2017  Leiden University

Teaching English language, linguistics and language acquisition at the Department of English Language and Culture

  • Language Acquisition 1: pronunciation & vocabulary (BA) – Fall 2017.
  • The Language of Jane Austen (MA) – Fall 2011.
  • Shakespeare and Early Modern English (BA) – Fall 2011.
  • Introduction to Late Modern English (BA) – Spring 2008.



Review of Norms and conventions in the history of English (Current Issues in Linguistic Theory, 347) by Birte Bös and Claudia Claridge (eds.). English Language and Linguistics (11 August).


Language Standardization. In Mark Aronoff (ed.) Oxford Bibliographies in Linguistics. New York: Oxford University Press.


Modern English Usage from Britain to America: Bryan Garner follows Henry Fowler from A Dictionary of Modern American English Usage to Garner’s Modern English Usage. English Today 34: 4, pp. 1–9.

The usage guide: Evolution of a genre. In Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade (ed.) English Usage Guides: History, Advice, Attitudes. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Linguistic Prescriptivism. In Mark Aronoff (ed.) Oxford Bibliographies in Linguistics. New York: Oxford University Press.


A Perspective on Prescriptivism: Language in reviews of The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage. In Carol Percy and Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade (eds.) Prescription and Tradition in Language: Establishing standards across time and space. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Codification of Correctness: the normative sources of Joseph Priestley’s The Rudiments of English Grammar. In Massimo Sturiale & Giovanni Iamartino (eds.) Language and History 59: 1, pp. 14–24. (19 July)

Time for a new (but not ‘New’) Fowler. Review of Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage by Jeremy Butterfield, 2015. English Today. (15 February)

Attitudes to Prescriptivism (guest editor.) special issue Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 37: 3.


Attitudes to Prescriptivism: An IntroductionJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 37: 3, pp. 233–242 (published online 5 August 2015)

The Hyper Usage Guide of English Database User Manual. Website Bridging the Unbridgeable: linguists, prescriptivists and the general public (February)


Rules of engagement? Usage and normativism: public discourse and critical language awarenessEnglish Today 118. Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 11–12. (8 May)

‘The Sense of Style,’ a milestone on winding road to better writing (appeared online under the title Can something be totally unique? Steven Pinker’s new book says yes). The Washington Post. (6 November)

When Did We Start Caring About “Hopefully”? 250 Years of English Usage AdviceLexicon Valley blog at Slate.com. (7 August)

Review of Internet Linguistics by David CrystalEnglish Studies. Vol. 95, No. 5, pp. 590–592. (8 July)

A Time For Critical Language AwarenessCambridge Extra blog. (27 June)

Bruggen Slaan in CambridgeNWO Humanities blog. (22 May)


Joseph Priestley, GrammarianThe Joseph Priestley House Newsletter. (Spring issue)


Long-s in Late Modern English manuscriptsEnglish Language and Linguistics. Vol. 16, No. 2, pp. 319–338. (with Lyda Fens-de Zeeuw)


Joseph Priestley, Grammarian: Late Modern English normativism and usage in a sociohistorical context. Utrecht: LOT Dissertation Series.


Deontic and Epistemic Modals as Indicators of Prescriptive and Prescriptive Language in the Grammars by Joseph Priestley and Robert Lowth. In Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade & Wim van der Wurff (eds.) Current Issues in Late Modern English, pp. 57–88. Bern: Peter Lang.

Review of Language and Letters of the Bluestocking Network: Sociolinguistic Issues in Eighteenth-Century Epistolary English by Anni SairioEnglish Studies. Vol. 91, No. 7, pp. 812–813. (27 October)

Prescription or practice? Be/have Variation with Past Participles of Mutative Intransitive Verbs in the Letters of Joseph Priestley. In Ursula Lenker, Judith Huber & Robert Mailhammer (eds.) English Historical Linguistics 2008: Volume I: The History of English Verbal and Nominal Constructions, pp. 63–78. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.


Review of Corpus-Based Language Studies: an Advanced Resource Book by Tony McEnery, Richard Xiao & Yukio TonoLanguage and Literature. Vol. 18, No. 4, pp. 394–395. (27 October)



Following Fowler: a bird’s-eye view of the English usage guide. Symposium “Life After HUGE?”University of Leiden (9 December 2016)


Compiling the HUGE database. Workshop “How useful are usage guides?” for TeamWork. Utrecht, Netherlands (6 February 2015).


Presenting the HUGE database + observations on usage guides and usage problems. University of Cambridge, UK (27 June 2014)


A Perspective on Prescriptivism: the reception of an English usage guide. University of Leiden, Netherlands (14 June 2013)

The English Hyper Usage Guide. Utrecht University, Netherlands (7 February 2013)


The Normative Force of Custom: normative language in Joseph Priestley’s descriptive English grammar. Bogazici University, Turkey (6 September 2012)

Usage & Normativism: Public Discourse & Critical Language Awareness. University of Zürich, Switzerland (21 August 2012)


Late Modern English grammars: prescriptivism, text type & style. Leiden University, Netherlands (May 2011)

Waarom is EDBO nuttig voor de historische taalkunde? with Dr. Gijsbert Rutten.  Stadsgehoorzaal Leiden, Netherlands (6 April 2011)


Long‐s in Late Modern English Manuscripts: The letters of Joseph Priestley (1733‐1804) and Lindley Murray (1745‐1826) with Lyda Fens-de Zeeuw. University of Sheffield, UK (May 2010)


The Genesis of Joseph Priestley’s Rudiments of English Grammar. Utrecht University (February 2009)

Joseph Priestley and the Founding Fathers: social networks, normative influence and the ‘metropolitan standard’. University of Toronto, Canada (August 2009)

Voorzetselplaatsing in the brieven van Joseph Priestley en Benjamin Franklin. Leiden University (2009)


An 18th‐Century Grammarian’s Usage: be/have variation in the letters of Joseph Priestley. Ludwig‐Maximilians‐Universität, Munich, Germany (August 2008)

From Copy to Corpus: building and using the Joseph Priestley Letter Corpus. Leiden University, Netherlands (21 November 2008)

De brieven van Joseph Priestley: transcriptie voor een electronisch corpus. Letters as Loot Project. Leiden University (2008)


Towards a Quantification of Prescriptivism. Leiden University, Netherlands (August 2007)

Hedging in Eighteenth‐century Scientific English: the case of Joseph Priestley. Uppsala Universitet, Sweden (June 2007)

Private: Photography

My commissioned work falls mainly into the genres of theatre and travel photography. See the pages in the top menu for examples. You can also visit my flickr page for more photos and my personal work.


I document the shows of several Amsterdam-based improv theatre groups, easylaughs, Tag Out Theatre, and The Ferocious Four, where I capture the fun, action and drama of improvised comedy theatre. My photos are regularly published in Status, a Spanish/English language magazine about improvisational theatre. I am also one of the staff photographers for the International Improvisational Theatre Festival Impro Amsterdam.


I regularly shoot for city-trip articles in the largest independent travel magazine in The Netherlands, Columbus Travel, showing the latest and most interesting in off-the-beaten tracks in some of Europe’s lesser visited cities.

Terms and conditions for photographic work are those drawn up by the organisation DuPho (Dutch Photographers) and can be found here (in Dutch).