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Bert Remijsen's page

A fire of cow dung protects cows from flies in Tonga, South Sudan  

Affiliation and contact details

picture of Bert Remijsen Photo by John Ohala I am a Chancellor's Fellow in the subject area of Linguistics and English Language, which is part of the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, at the University of Edinburgh. The Chancellor's Fellowship is a research-focused position at the University of Edinburgh.

Email: b.remijsen@ed.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)131 650 6657
Linguistics & English Language
The University of Edinburgh
3 Charles Street (DSB)
Edinburgh EH8 9AD
United Kingdom

Research interests

My main research interest is suprasegmental systems, that is, the way languages make use of pitch, duration, voice quality, loudness, and to some extent vowel quality. A lot of my research contributes to establishing what kinds of suprasegmental systems occur - or can occur - in the languages of the world. I select languages that are typologically unusual and/or complex with regard to their suprasegmentals, and I investigate them by means of phonological and phonetic analysis. Beyond the descriptive analysis of these systems, I use this knowledge to evaluate general hypotheses, such as Quantal Theory (Stevens 1989) and Dispersion Theory (Liljencrants & Lindblom 1972).

In the past I have worked among others on languages that have stress and tone as independent phonological distinctions in their sound systems. These days I focus on the suprasegmental systems of Shilluk and of dialects of Dinka. Both Dinka and Shilluk are Nilotic languages that use tone, vowel length and voice quality intensively in morphological processes. If you want to know more, have a look at the project webpage.

In relation to Shilluk, my interest in the suprasegmentals has pulled me into the descriptive analysis and documentation of the language as a whole. I am working with Cynthia L. Miller-Naudé and Leoma G. Gilley on a study of the transitive verbs system, and with Otto Gwado Ayoker on the Collection of Shilluk Narratives and Songs. My research on Shilluk benefits from funding fromt he VolkswagenStiftung, through the research network Tonal Placement: Interaction of Qualitative and Quantative Factors, coordinated by Martine Grice and Anne Hermes at University of Cologne.

Some recent presentations (recent to past)

June 3, 2014: Remijsen, Bert & Otto Gwado Ayoker "Evidence for contrastive alignment in falling contours". Tonal Spaces workshop, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, 2-3 June 2014, organized by Kristine Yu.

May 14, 2014: Remijsen, Bert & Otto Gwado Ayoker "Evidence for contrastive tonal alignment in Shilluk". The 4th International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages, Nijmegen, 13-16 May 2014.

September 8, 2014: Remijsen, Bert "Het fonologisch potentieel van de tijdsdimensie in toon en intonatie". Above and Beyond the Segments: a symposium at Leiden University in honour of Prof. Vincent J. van Heuven.

Teaching and supervision

Supervision of research projects I supervise research projects involving linguistic fieldwork, descriptive analysis, and phonetic analysis. I am the primary supervisor for:

  • Laura Arnold -- The goal of this PhD project is to produce the first description of Ambel, a language of the Raja Ampat islands of New Guinea.
I am the second supervisor for:
  • Misnadin -- Misnadin is carrying out phonetics investiagtions into the sound system of Madurese (Austronesian), and in particular the interaction between vowels and the consonants that preceed them. The primary supervisor is James Kirby.
  • Darryl Turner -- Darryl is investigating the morphology and syntax of Katcha (Nilo-Saharan), a language spoken in the Nuba Mountains. The primary supervisor is Ronnie Cann.


Most of my teaching focuses on research skills. In the 2014-15 academic year I teach:

  • Linguistic Fieldwork and Language Description (Hons / MSc level; semester 1)
  • Acoustic Phonetics (module in LEL2B; semester 1)
  • Phonetics and Laboratory Phonology (module in Phonetics and Laboratory Phonology [course organiser: Prof. Alice Turk]; semester 1)
  • Valency and valency-changing operations (module in LEL2D; semester 2)

I use the signal processing package Praat, both for research and teaching. My Praat scripts page includes a presentation on the use of Praat for research on prosody, and scripts that have proven to be useful to many other users of the Praat software.


B. Remijsen (2001) Dialectal Variation in the Lexical Tone System of Ma`ya. Language and Speech 44(4), 473-499.
B. Remijsen (2002) Word-prosodic systems of Raja Ampat languages. PhD diss. Leiden University - LOT Dissertation Series vol. 49.
[If you are interested in receiving a copy, then please let me know. Reviewed by Graham Thurgood in Oceanic Linguistics 43(2), 522-524]
B. Remijsen (2002) Lexically contrastive stress accent and lexical tone in Ma`ya. In C. Gussenhoven & N. Warner (eds.) Laboratory Phonology VII. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 585-614.
Remijsen, B. & V.J. van Heuven (2003) On the categorical nature of intonational contrasts, an experiment on boundary tones in Dutch. In J. van de Weijer, V.J. van Heuven, & H.G. van der Hulst (eds.) The Phonological Spectrum - Volume II: Suprasegmental structure. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 225-246.
T. Hohe & B. Remijsen (2003) Peacemaker for religious conflicts? The value of Pela relationships in Ambon. In M. Ramstedt (ed.) Hinduism in Modern Indonesia. Routledge Curzon, 126-143.
E. Lindström & B. Remijsen (2005) Aspects of the prosody of Kuot, a language where intonation ignores stress. Linguistics 43(4), 839-870.
B. Remijsen & V.J. van Heuven (2005) Stress, tone, and discourse prominence in the Curacao dialect of Papiamentu. Phonology 22(2), 205-235.
B. Remijsen & V.J. van Heuven (eds.) (2006) Between Stress and Tone. Guest-edited thematic issue of Phonology 23(2).
B. Remijsen (2007) Lexical tone in Magey Matbat. In V.J. van Heuven & E. van Zanten (eds.) Prosody in Indonesian languages. Utrecht: LOT Occasional Series vol. 9.
B. Remijsen & L. Gilley (2008) Why are three-level vowel length systems rare? Insights from Dinka (Luanyjang dialect). Journal of Phonetics 36(2), 318-344.
B. Remijsen, F. Martis & R. Severing (2008) The intonational system of Papiamentu (Curaçao variant). In N. Faraclas, R. Severing, & C. Weijer (eds.) Linguistic Studies on Papiamentu . Willemstad: Fundashon pa Planifikashon di Idioma, 181-220.
B. Remijsen & D.R. Ladd (2008) The tone system of the Luanyjang dialect of Dinka. Journal of African Languages and Linguistics, 29(2), 173-213.
B. Remijsen & C. Adong Manyang (2009) Luanyjang Dinka. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 39(1), 113-124. Available from the JIPA website - I recommend the pdf version with embedded sound files.
D.R. Ladd, B. Remijsen & C. Adong Manyang (2009) On the distinction between regular and irregular inflectional morphology: evidence from Dinka. Language 85(3), 659-670. [The data collected in relation to this study can be downloaded from Edinburgh DataShare.]
B. Remijsen (2010) Nouns and verbs in Magey Matbat. In M.C. Ewing & M. Klamer (eds.) Typological and Areal Analyses: Contributions from East Nusantara. Pacific Linguistics 618, 281-311.
E. van Zanten, R. Stoel, & B. Remijsen (2010) Stress in Austronesian languages. In by Harry van der Hulst & Rob Goedemans, & Ellen van Zanten (eds.) A survey of the word accentual patterns in the languages of the world, 87-112. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
B. Remijsen, O.G. Ayoker & T. Mills (2011) Shilluk. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 41(1), 131-145. Available from the JIPA website - I recommend the pdf version with embedded sound files.
B. Remijsen, A. Impey, E. Achol Ajuet Deng, S. Yak Deng Yak, P. Malek Ayuel Ring, J. Penn de Ngong, T. Reid, D. Robert Ladd & M. Meyerhoff (2012) A Collection of Dinka Songs. [A collection of songs from 38 individual singers and groups of singers, totaling over 180 song files, available online through Edinburgh DataShare (with index and introduction) and the Open Languages Archives Catalogue (OLAC), under resources for Dinka.]
B. Remijsen (2013) Tonal alignment is contrastive in falling contours in Dinka. Language 89(2), 297-327. [The datasets of the production and peception studies involved on which this paper is based can be downloaded from Edinburgh DataShare.]
B. Remijsen (2014) Tone. In M. Aronoff (ed.) Oxford Bibliographies in Linguistics. New York: Oxford University Press. [DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199772810-0175]
B. Remijsen, F. Martis & R. Severing (2014) The marked accentuation pattern of Curaçao Papiamentu. In S.-A. Jun (ed.) Prosodic Typology II: The Phonology and Intonation of Phrasing. New York: Oxford University Press, 302-323.
B. Remijsen (2014) Investigating tone in languages with a quantity contrast. Language Documentation & Conservation 8, 672-689. [with embedded sound examples; online at http://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/handle/10125/24620]
B. Remijsen & Otto Gwado Ayoker (2014) Contrastive tonal alignment in falling contours in Shilluk. Phonology 31(3), 435-462. [Version with embedded media recommended - click on the blue transcriptions to play the sound.]
B. Remijsen, C.L. Miller-Naudé & L.G. Gilley (to appear) Stem-internal and affixal morphology in Shilluk. To appear in M. Baerman (ed.) The Handbook of Inflection. New York: Oxford University Press.

To appear


H Here are some pictures from two of the places I have visited in relation to my work: the Raja Ampat islands in Indonesia, and Tonga, a small town in South Sudan.

Last change: January 7, 2016