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1981 …2020

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Personal profile

Personal information

- Professor of General Linguistics, Faculty of Humanities

Professor of Bible translation in the Faculty of Humanities and in the Faculty of Religion and Theology  (Endowed Chair sponsored by the Netherlands Bible Society)

- Chair of the department Language, Literature and Communication  

My teaching and research are focused on two fields, Linguistics and Bible Translation.


 -  discovering and describing undocumented and unwritten languages and language families,

e.g. The Korowai of Irian Jaya. Their language in its cultural context, Oxford University Press 1997

e.g. The Greater Awyu Language Family of West Papua, with R. Wester and W. van den Heuvel, Language and Linguistics in Melanesia, 2012.

 - areal, typological and anthropological linguistics of New Guinea (e.g numeral systems, kinship, tail-head linkage, switch reference, clause chaining)

e.g. Antoinette Schapper and Lourens de Vries (2018), Comparatives in Melanesia: circles of convergence. Linguistic Typology 22 (3), 437-494.

e.g. de Vries 2017, The Imperative Paradigm of Korowai, in Commands: a cross-linguistic typology, Oxford University Press 2017  Aikhenvald and Dixon (eds.);

e.g. de Vries 2017, The Greater Awyu Languages of West Papua in Typological Perspective, in The Cambridge Handbook of Linguistic Typology. Aikhenvald, A. & Dixon, R. M. W. (eds). Cambridge University Press. 

 Bible Translation:

 - Bible Translation Studies

e.g. 2016, Views of Orality and the Translation of the Bible. Translation Studies 8(2), 141-155

  - History of Bible translation

e.g. 2018, Iang Evangelivm Ul-kadus menjurat kapada Marcum: the first Malay Gospel of Mark (1629-1630) and the Agama Kumpeni. Journal of the Royal Institute of Linguistics and Anthropology (BKI 174 (2018) 47-79.), Leiden; 


Research Network

I am a member of the following research institutes that play a key role in my research collaboration:

-Eep Talstra Center for Bible and Computer, Theology, VU Amsterdam

-  Cairns Institute of Language and Culture, James Cook University, Queensland, Australia 

-  Nida Institute for Biblical Scholarship, New York



My research interests include:

- Papuan languages 

- the anthropological and typological linguistics  of New Guinea

- religious language and translation of sensitive texts

- history and theories of Bible translation



Articulatory Phonetics and Typology of Sounds (MA Linguistics)

Describing Morphosyntax (MA Linguistics)

Anthropological Linguistics (MA, ReMA Linguistics, Theology)

Linguistic Research (MA Applied Linguistics)

Core course Linguistics (ReMA Humanities, Linguistics track)

Introduction Bible Translation Studies (MA, ReMa Theology)

Introduction Translation Studies (MA CIW)

Working Sessions in Bible Translation (MA Theology)


Prizes and Awards

Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Cairns Institute of Language and Culture, James Cook University, Australia 2010

International Collaborative Award of the Australian Research Council, 2014, as Partner Investigator within the ARC Discovery Project 'How languages differ and why'



Last 5 years:

Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO):

- Vrije Competitie (NWO 2010-2015),  The Awyu-Dumut family of Papuan languages in its linguistic and cultural context

- Verbal Valence in the Dead Sea Scrolls: Syntactic Variation and Linguistic Change carried out by Femke Mannes-Sybesma (NWO Promoties in de Geesteswetenschappen (2015)

- De Statenbijbel als vertaalproject in de 17e eeuw. Carried out by C.J. van Linden. NWO Leraren Programma (2015)

Australian Research Council (ARC):

- ARC Discovery Project (DP130101361):How languages differ and why

When languages interact, they become similar in certain ways. This project will explore the reasons for this, by examining why there are many languages of diverse structures in certain regions, focussing on New Guinea, Amazonia and north-east Queensland. The project will assist with understanding how language helps and hinders inter-ethnic communication.

Chief Investigators: Alexandra Aikhenvald, R.M.W. Dixon, Lourens de Vries, Willem F Adelaar

Collaborating Schools/Institutions: School of Arts & Social Sciences; The Cairns Institute; Free University of Amsterdam; University of Leiden



BA Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde, Universiteit van Amsterdam, 1973-1977

MA General Linguistics/Bible translation (Doctoraal Bijbelvertalen) 1977-1980

PhD in Linguistics, University of Amsterdam 1989


Ancillary activities

  • Raad voor de Rechtsbijstand Bureau Wbtv | Den Bosch | Adviseur | 2012-01-01 - present

Ancillary activities are updated daily


  • PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania
  • P Philology. Linguistics
  • BS The Bible


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