Sie sind hier: FRIAS School of Language & … Fellows Prof. Dr. A.M. Backus

Prof. Dr. A.M. Backus

Universität Tilburg
Sept. - Dez. 2012

Vergangege FRIAS-Aufenthalte

  • Sept. - Dez. 2012



I have been a Full Professor of Linguistics and Sociolinguistics since September 2011, at Tilburg University in The Netherlands. Before that, I have worked at the same university in various capacities, and held Postdoc fellowships at the University of California at San Diego. I got my PhD in 1996, and have held regular university positions ever since. Gradually, the focus of my work has shifted from an exclusive focus on research to increasing responsibilities in teaching, management, funds acquisition, and supervision of PhD and MA students. In Freiburg, I aim to increase my research time for the duration of my stay.
My publication list reflects my twin main interests over the past years: language contact and cognitive linguistics. I am best known for my work on the linguistic effects of language contact, taking most of my empirical data from Turkish as spoken in The Netherlands, collected during my postdoc projects. In this work I have tried to achieve two things. The first is a more encompassing approach to contact phenomena. I got my start as a researcher on codeswitching; gradually I have expanded my empirical focus to other contact effects as well, with the ambition to account for them in a single coherent framework as the guiding principle. In addition, I have tried to avoid the lack of attention to macro-sociolinguistic factors that is typical of linguistic approaches to language contact, by including them in my gradually developing framework.
The second strand important in my recent work, the seeds of which were visible in earlier work going back to my dissertation, is an attempt to come to grips with the collection of theories referred to as ‘Cognitive Linguistics’, both by using it to account for contact phenomena, as in my work with PhD student Seza Doğruöz, and by working on non-contact-related projects in which this theoretical framework is used. The latter include a project with PhD student Maria Mos, a current project on the ‘building blocks of language’, and work with various Research Master students.
On the whole, my work of the past five years has seen a shift from mostly individual research towards networking and group work. I have been involved in grant applications for the EU and NWO with various Dutch and international partners, am a founding member of a network of researchers on Turkish in immigrant contexts, and do a lot of supervision.


Publikationen (Auswahl)

Monographien und Herausgeberschaften

  • Backus, A. (1996). Two in one. Bilingual speech of Turkish immigrants in the Netherlands. Tilburg: Tilburg University Press, I-XII + 1-414. (Ph. D. dissertation)


  • Backus, A. & M. Spotti (forthc.). Normativity and Change: Introduction to the Special Issue on Agency and Power in Multilingual Discourse. Accepted by Sociolinguistic Studies.
  • Backus, A. (in press). Turkish as an immigrant language in Europe. Bhatia, Tej K. & William C. Ritchie (eds.). The Handbook of Bilingualism and Multilingualism, 2nd edition (Blackwell Handbooks in Linguistics).
  • Backus, A. & A. Verschik (in press). Copyability of (bound) morphology. To appear in Lars Johanson & Martine Robbeets (Eds). The origins of bound morphology. Leiden: Brill.
  • Backus, A, (2012). Be what you want to be: Linguistic and social consequences of withholding native speaker status. In: Agnihotri, Rama Kant & Singh, Rajendra (eds.). Indian English. Towards a new paradigm. New Delhi: Orient BlackSwan, pp. 104-117.
  • Backus, A., A.S. Doğruöz & B. Heine (2011). Salient stages in contact-induced grammatical change: Evidence from synchronic vs. diachronic contact situations. Language Sciences, 33: 738-752. doi:10.1016/j.langsci.2011.02.004
  • Verhagen, V. & A. Backus (2011). Individual differences in entrenchment of multiword units. Evidence from a Magnitude Estimation task. Toegepaste Taalwetenschap in Artikelen 85, 155-165.
  • Backus, A. & M. Mos (2011). Islands of (im)productivity in corpus data and acceptability judgments: Contrasting two potentiality constructions. In: Schönefeld, D. (ed.), Converging evidence. Methodological and theoretical issues for linguistic research (Human Cognitive Processing 33). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp.165-192.
  • Doğruöz, A. Seza and Ad Backus (2010).Turkish in The Netherlands: Development of a new variety? In: Norde, Muriel, Bob de Jonge & Cornelius Hasselblatt (eds.). Language Contact. New perspectives. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, pp. 87-102.
  • Backus, A., J.N. Jørgensen & C.W. Pfaff (2010). Linguistic effects of immigration: Language choice, codeswitching and change in Western European Turkish. Language & Linguistics Compass, 4 (7): 481-495.
  • Backus, Ad (2010). The role of codeswitching, loan translation and interference in the emergence of an immigrant variety of Turkish. Working Papers in Corpus-based Linguistics and Language Education 5, 225-241.
  • Doğruöz, Seza and Ad Backus (2009). Innovative constructions in Dutch Turkish: An assessment of on-going contact-induced change. Bilingualism: Language & Cognition, 12 (1), 41-63.
  • Backus, A. (2009). Codeswitching as one piece of the puzzle of language change: the case of Turkish yapmak. Isurin, Ludmila, Winford, Donald & De Bot, Kees & (eds.). Interdisciplinary approaches to codeswitching (Studies in Bilingualism 41). Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 307-336.
  • Backus, Ad & Margreet Dorleijn (2009). Loan translations versus code-switching. In: B. Bullock & A.J. Toribio (eds.). The Cambridge Handbook of Linguistic Code-switching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 75-93.
  • Doğruöz, A. Seza and Ad Backus (2007). Postverbal elements in Immigrant Turkish: Evidence of change? International Journal of Bilingualism, 11 (2): 185-220.
  • Backus, Ad (2005). Codeswitching and language change: One thing leads to another? In: International Journal of Bilingualism, 9 (3/4): 307-340.
  • Backus, Ad (2005). Limits to modularity: the ‘insertion’ of complex ‘lexical’ constructions in codeswitching. In: Conxita Lleo (ed.). Interfaces in multilingualism: Acquisition and representation. (Hamburg Studies in Multilingualism, Volume 4). Amsterdam: John Benjamins: 261-279.
  • Backus, A. (2003). Units in codeswitching: evidence for multimorphemic elements in the lexicon. In: Linguistics, 41 (1): 83-132.
  • Backus, A. (2003). Can a mixed language be conventionalized alternational codeswitching? In: Yaron Matras & Peter Bakker (Eds.). The Mixed Language Debate. Theoretical and Empirical Advances (Trends in Linguistics 145). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter : 237-270.
  • Backus, A. (2001). The role of semantic specificity in insertional codeswitching: Evidence from Dutch Turkish. In: R. Jacobson (ed.). Codeswitching Worldwide II. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter: 125-154.



A usage-based approach to language contact

Contact Linguistics is a field that is characterized by, on the one hand, a relatively loose integration with other branches of linguistics, and, on the other hand, a surprising degree of internal fragmentation. My aim for the months at FRIAS is to work out my ideas on combating both shortcomings. I want to lay the groundwork for a monograph on a model of language contact that lays out the relevance of contact data for linguistics in general, and that unites phenomena that tend to be studied in isolation from each other, particularly codeswitching and contact-induced change. This also involves uniting psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic approaches. Empirically, I will continue my work on Turkish-Dutch contact with PhD students in Holland. If possible, I aim to bring some of them to Freiburg for a two-day workshop during my stay. In general, my work will attempt to study contact data employing a usage-based approach, as in various branches of Cognitive Linguistics, and in doing so contribute to both linguistics in general and to contact linguistics.