About me


Form does not follow function.
Form IS function.

I improve content, promoting clarity, good flow and a seamless integration of text and visuals. I have over 15 years of experience as a professional writer. I write in native level English, edit texts and review articles & books. I make your stories better through linguistics-driven editing, writing, combined with visual storytelling.

I believe that in written and visual storytelling, form does not follow function, but form is function. An example is the Round Robin, which historically was a petition in which the signees write their names in a circular pattern, so that none of the signees could be identified as the ringleader. It was often used by sailors as a precaution against the severe and harsh punishments for disobedience and mutiny.

I also teach science communication in academic English, specifically writing and presenting. My scientific background is in English social-historical linguistics, specialising in questions of language standardisation, usage and prescriptivism, and language attitudes. In addition I am interested in corpus linguistics and discourse analysis.

Editor

The Routledge Handbook of Prescriptivism

I am one of the co-editors of the Routledge Handbook of Prescriptivism, a new volume in the Routledge series of handbooks on linguistic topics. The main goal of each handbook is to survey a topic, explaining why the area is important, and critically discussing the leading views in the area. It is  jointly edited by prof. Joan Beal, dr. Morana Lukač and dr. Robin Straaijer, with prof. Carol Percy and prof. Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade on the editorial board in an advisory capacity.

The goal is to develop a widely usable handbook that provides a comprehensive and useful overview of the field of linguistic prescriptivism. The aim of the project is to provide a map of the current status quo of the field, adding to it the uncharted territory of prescriptivism and thus mark its two-decade transformation into a serious field of study within linguistics. Both the value and the method of studying prescriptivism have been challenged in the past, and this handbook is the first large-scale attempt to make a robust step towards demonstrating both.

The Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development

In 2016 I was a guest editor for the linguistic Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development. I prepared and compiled a special issue of this journal titled “Attitudes to Prescriptivism”, with articles based on talks from an academic workshop about attitudes to linguistic prescriptivism in various countries, held at the 2013 conference “Prescriptivism and Tradition in Language” (12–14 June, University of Leiden, The Netherlands).

Writer

My publications broadly fall into three groups: articles & chapters, blogs, and reviews. Each of these serve different, but complementary purposes.

Articles & Chapters

The articles and chapters I write are mainly to communicate within the scientific community. These publications disseminate specialist knowledge – in my case social-historical linguistic knowledge – and require peer reviewing to ensure the high level of quality and reliability associated with scientific research.

2019

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

2018

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.

2017

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

2016

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)

2015

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)

2014

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

2013

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

2012

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

2010

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.

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.

Blogs

I have written blogposts for the blogs of the main research projects that I have been involved with.

Bridging the Unbridgeable

This blog provides – but is primarily meant to receive – feedback on all sorts of usage questions, such as why people should object to split infinitives or to the use of like. The blog presents news and information on usage guides, and also invites people to share new developments. Incidentally, the Bridging the Unbridgeable-blog is also an example of my early user experience design.

The Codifiers and the English Language

This project traced different aspects of the process of linguistic influence: between individuals, within social networks, from grammars and grammarians on other grammars as well as on speakers and writers of English. The weblog was used to establish a community of scholars working in the same field but also beyond, primarily to share knowledge with the outside world but also to profit from knowledge of people interested in the project.

Other blog posts

When Did We Start Caring About “Hopefully”? 250 Years of English Usage AdviceLexicon Valley blog at Slate.com. (7 August 2014)

A Time For Critical Language AwarenessCambridge Extra blog. (27 June 2014)

Bruggen Slaan in CambridgeNWO Humanities blog. (22 May 2014)

Reviews

The reviews I write are also mainly published in academic journals. However, compared to the articles and chapters, they serve a slightly different purpose. Reviews help to expose the content of others’ publications to a wider audience and help persuade people to read them.

2016

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)

2014

‘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)

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

2009

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)

Speaker

While publications disseminate knowledge, presentations are the medium where knowledge is generated and co-created between professionals.

2022

This is not a SHOW-show: Contrastive Focus Reduplication in English. Short comedy presentation at “Pints & PowerPoints” at Boom Chicago, Amsterdam (10 February 2022).

2016

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

2015

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

2014

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

2013

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)

2012

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)

2011

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)

2010

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)

2009

The Genesis of Joseph Priestley’s Rudiments of English Grammar. University of Utrecht, Netherlands (May 2011).

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)

2008

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)

2007

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)

Teacher

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, while at the same time improving your writing and thinking processes.


Writing and Language courses

2018–2020

At the Academic Language Programme, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and the Institute for Dutch Language Education (INTT), University of 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

Working freelance for Babel Talen, teaching academic English writing for students at Utrecht University, specifically the courses Writing for publication for Ph.D. candidates – Spring 2018, and Academic Writing for medical students – Winter 2017, Winter 2018.

Working freelance for Taalcentrum-VU,  teaching the course Scientific Writing in English for master students Health Sciences and Biomedical sciences at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Faculty of Health Sciences – Spring 2017, Spring 2018.

2008–2017

Teaching English language, linguistics and language acquisition at the Department of English Language and Culture, at Leiden University, specifically the courses 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.