Robert S. Kirsner
Robert S. Kirsner is Professor Emeritus of Dutch and Afrikaans in the Department of Germanic Languages at UCLA. He received his Ph.D. in general linguistics from Columbia University in 1972. He has held Junior and Senior Fulbright Fellowships, has been a Fellow and a Visiting Scholar at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (then in Wassenaar, Holland), and in 1985 held a Visitor’s Fellowship (Bezoekersbeurs) from the Netherlands Society for the Advancement of Pure Research (ZWO). He has been a member of the Editorial Board of the American Association for Netherlandic Studies and edited the volume The Low Countries and Beyond (University Press of America 1993). He was also a member of the Reader’s Committee for the second edition of the Algemene Nederlandse Spraakkunst, a two-volume 1700-page reference grammar of Modern Dutch written under the sponsorship of the Belgian and the Dutch governments and published in 1997. Prof. Kirsner is a former member of the editorial board of the South African journal Tydskrif vir Nederlands en Afrikaans, a past member of the advisory board for the journal Functions of Language, and a past editor of Non-Past, Before, the newsletter of the Columbia School Linguistic Society.
In 1992 Prof. Kirsner received a two-part travel grant from the Human Science Research Council. This allowed him to present a paper at what has been called the “first truly international” South African Dutch Studies Conference held in January at Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education (now the Potchefstroom campus of Northwest University). It also permitted him to return in August to visit the universities of Cape Town and Stellenbosch, the Randse Afrikaanse Universiteit, (now part of the University of Johannesberg), the University of the Witwatersrand, and Unisa. Most importantly, he was able to lecture in Afrikaans about teaching Afrikaans and Dutch in the United States at both the University of the Orange Free State (August 6) and the University of the Western Cape (August 11).
In 1995 Professor Kirsner received a second Visitor’s Fellowship from NWO ( the continuation of ZWO,) and carried out research at Leiden University with Prof. Vincent van Heuven; see Kirsner and Van Heuven 1996 “Boundary tones and the semantics of the Dutch final particles hè, hoor, zeg, and joh” in Linguistics in the Netherlands 1996.
Prof. Kirsner’s research focuses on the linguistics of Modern Dutch, but he has also written or co-authored articles on English, Swahili, and Afrikaans. He is particularly interested in the semantics and pragmatics of grammatical systems and in grammaticalization phenomena. More recently he has been concerned with pragmatic particles, which occupy a position between grammar and lexicon. Theoretically, he concentrates on the interaction of communicative structuralist (sign-based), functionalist, and cognitive theories of language. Methodologically he is interested in the use of quantitative as well as qualitative data in linguistic analysis and in data drawn from both discourse and psycholinguistic experiments.
Professor Kirsner taught courses in the Dutch and Afrikaans languages, Modern Dutch and Modern Afrikaans literature (both in the original and in English translation) and in linguistic theory and analysis in the UCLA Department of Germanic Languages. Additionally he has taught Freshman Seminars on such topics as “Science Fiction and Religion” and “Is a Nonviolent World Possible?” and an Honors course “Conflicts between Languages,” covering such topics as the rise and potential fall of Afrikaans in South Africa and Dutch versus French in Belgium. In addition, he designed a Freshman Seminar on the great 20th century Dutch author Willem Frederik Hermans, but it failed to attract enough students the first time he tried to give it in 2010. In a further attempt to create a course which would attract larger numbers of students, Professor Kirsner has also branched out from his own areas of expertise (Dutch and Afrikaans language and literature, the sociology of Dutch and Afrikaans, and Functional-Cognitive schools of linguistics) and designed and given a General Education course on “Modern Dutch Culture and Society.”
Given that both Dutch and Afrikaans are viewed as “critical” or “unusual” languages in American society and are taught at very few American universities, Prof. Kirsner was active in promoting them and in assisting students of them at other institutions with placement tests, language evaluations, and fellowship applications. In addition to being Chair of dissertation committees for students in his own Department and a member of MA and PhD committees in Applied Linguistics, Asian Languages, and Linguistics at UCLA, Professor Kirsner has also been invited to be an opponent or external examiner at PhD defenses in both the Netherlands (Leiden) and Belgium (Leuven) and a referent (outside evaluator) of a dissertation at Leiden .
Together with colleagues at other universities, Prof. Kirsner edited Cognitive and Communicative Approaches to Linguistic Analysis (Benjamins 2004).Among his most recent publications are: (with Vincent van Heuven) “Phonetic or phonological contrasts in Dutch boundary tones” in Cornips and Doetjes, eds., Linguistics in the Netherlands 2004; “Linguistic phenomena in the works of Marga Minco and Gerard Reve” in Shannon and Snapper, eds., Janus at the Millennium (2004); “Over Uitdrukkingen met Finaal Maar.” in the journal Voortgang: Jaarboek voor de Neerlandistiek (2006); “On Translation, Linguistics, and Dutch Studies in America” in Studies in Dutch Language and Culture 3 (2009), and “Instructional Meanings, Iconicity, and l’Arbitraire du Signe in the analysis of the Afrikaans demonstratives,” in De Jonge and Tobin, eds. Linguistic Theory and Empirical Evidence (2011). His 1976 article on the Dutch pseudopassive, “De ‘Onechte Lijdende Vorm’” in the journal Spektator, was selected as one of 100 “classic” articles to be posted in the list “Dutch Linguistics in 100 Articles” of the Digitale Biblotheek voor de Nederlandse Letteren (www.dbnl.nl).
As noted in William Z. Shetter’s review of it in Language 58.2.1982, ProfessorKirsner’s 1979 book The Problem of Presentative Sentences in Modern Standard Dutch was the first since Gunnar Bech’s classic Über das niederländische Adverbialpronomen er (1952) to deal with one of the thorniest problems in Dutch grammar. His recent Qualitative-Quantitative Analyses of Dutch and Afrikaans Grammar and Lexicon, published in February 2014, has received very positive reviews in the Platform boekbeoordelingen of the journal Tijdschrift voor Nederlandse Taal- & Letterkunde (online), the journal Internationale Neerlandistiek 53.1.2015, and South African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 1.4 2016. A round-table discussion of the book by several scholars with a response by Kirsner appeared in Nederlandse Taalkunde/Dutch Linguistics 20.2.2015.
In April 2001 Professor Kirsner was made a buitenlands erelid or ‘honorary foreign member’ of the Belgian Koninklijke Academie voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde ‘Royal Academy of Dutch Linguistics and Literature.’ In April 2007 he was elected to membership in the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns. ‘South African Academy for Science and Art’. In June 2009 he was elected to the Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde ‘Society for Dutch Letters,’ which includes linguistics as well as literature. At the 18th Triennial Colloquium of the International Association for Dutch Studies (Internationale Vereniging voor Neerlandistiek), held at Antwerp University in August 2012, Professor Kirsner’ s work was the focal point of a special two-hour theme session entitled Robert S. Kirsner en het Nederlands als exotische taal (Robert S. Kirsner and Dutch as an exotic language.)
In 2015 Professor Kirsner was promoted to Professor Step VI, a rank and step for which one has to undergo the same sort of full-career review (with letters from former students and from scholars at other universities, etc. ) as is required for promotion to Associate Professor (i.e. tenure) and promotion to Professor.
On July 1, 2016 Professor Kirsner officially retired from U.C.L.A., but he presently is on recall until the end of the 2018-19 academic year, teaching two courses a year.
- Ph.D. in general linguistics, Columbia University
- Robert S. Kirsner. “The Role of zullen in the Grammar of Modern Standard Dutch,” Lingua 24 (1969), 101-154.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “De ‘Onechte Lijdende Vorm’,” Spektator: Tijdschrift voor Neerlandistiek 6 (1976), 1-18.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “De Rol van de Directe Vergelijking van het Nederlandse en het Engelse Tijdssysteem bij het Onderwijs aan Engelstaligen,” Verslag van het Vijfde Colloquium Nederlandistiek – Leiden/Noordwijkerhout 1973, Internationale Vereniging voor Neerlandistiek, Den Haag, 1976, 171-187.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “On the Subjectless ‘Pseudo-Passive’ in Standard Dutch and the Semantics of Background Agents,” C. Li,. ed., Subject and Topic, Academic Press, New York, 1976, 387-415.
- Robert S. Kirsner and Sandra A. Thompson: “The Role of Pragmatic Inference in Semantics: A Study of Sensory Verb Complements in English,” Glossa 10 (1976), 200-240.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “On the Passive of Sensory Verb Complement Sentences,” Linguistic Inquiry 8 (1977), 173-179.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “Deixis in Discourse: An Exploratory Quantitative Study of the Modern Dutch Demonstrative Adjectives,” in T. Givón, Syntax and Semantics, Volume 12: Discourse and Syntax, Academic Press, New York, 1979, 355-375.
- Robert S. Kirsner. The Problem of Presentative Sentences in Modern Dutch, North-Holland Publishing Co., Amsterdam, 1979. (xii + 215 pages) .
- Thomas J. Hinnebusch and Robert S. Kirsner. “On the Inference of ‘Inalienable Possession’ in Swahili,” Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 2 (1980), 1-16.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “Meaning, Message, Inference, and the Problem of Units in Linguistics,” Quaderni di Semantica: Rivista Internazionale di Semantica Teorica e Applicata 1 (1980), 307-317.
- Robert S. Kirsner. Review of B. C. Donaldson, Dutch Reference Grammar. Dutch Crossing: A Journal for Students of Dutch, University of London, Nr. 16, March 1982, 73-80.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “On the Use of Quantitative Discourse Data to Determine Inferential Mechanisms in Grammar,” in F. Klein-Andreu, Discourse Perspectives on Syntax, Academic Press, New York, 1983, 237-257.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “On Determining the Appropriateness of Binary Semantic Features in Grammatical Analyses” Quaderni di Semantica: Rivista Internazionale di Semantica Teorica e Applicata 5 (1984), 161-170.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “Iconicity and Grammatical Meaning,” in John Haiman, ed., Typological Studies in Language 6: Iconicity in Syntax. John Benjamins, msterdam, 1985 249-270.
- Robert S. Kirsner, Arie Verhagen, and Mariëtte Willemsen. “Over PP’s, Transitiviteit en het Zgn. Indirekt Objekt,” Spektator: Tijdschrift voor Neerlandistiek 14 (1985), 341-347.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “Quantitative Approaches to Dutch Linguistic Structure,” in William H. Fletcher, ed., Papers from the First Interdisciplinary Conference on Netherlandic Studies, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, June 1982. University Press of America, Lanham, MD, 1985, 95-104.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “On Being Empirical with Indirect Objects: The Subtleties of aan,” in J. Snapper and J. van Oosten, eds., Dutch Linguistics at Berkeley: Papers Presented at the Dutch Linguistics Colloquium Held at the University of California, Berkeley on November 9th, 1985. Dutch Studies Program, University of California, Berkeley 1986, 27-43.
- Robert S. Kirsner, Vincent J. van Heuven, and Jos F. M. Vermeulen. “Text-Type, Context, and Demonstrative Choice in Written Dutch: Some Experimental Data,” Text: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Study of Discourse 7, (1987), 117-144.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “What It Takes To Show Whether An Analysis ‘Fits’,” in Hermann Bluhme and Göran Hammarström, eds., Descriptio Linguistica: Proceedings of the First Conference on Descriptive and Structural Linguistics. Antwerp, 9-10 September 1985. Tübingen: Gunther Narr, 1987, 76-113.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “Prepositional versus ‘Bare’ Indirect Objects in the Written Dutch of Novels and Newspapers,” in Ton J. Broos, ed., Papers from the Third Interdisciplinary Conference on Netherlandic Studies, University Press of America, Lanham, MD, 1988, 279-296.
- Robert S. Kirsner and Vincent J. Van Heuven. “The Significance of Demonstrative Position in Modern Dutch.” Lingua 76 (1988), 209-248.
- Robert S. Kirsner. ” Does Sign-Oriented Linguistics Have Have a Future? On the Falsifiability of Theoretical Constructs,” in Y. Tobin, ed., From Sign to Text: A Semiotic View of Communication. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1989, 161-178.
- Robert S. Kirsner and Jeanine Y. Deen. “Het mes snijdt aan twee kanten: On the semantics and pragmatics of the Dutch sentence-final particle hoor,” in Margriet Bruijn Lacy, ed., The Low Countries: Multidisciplinary Studies. Publications of the American Association for Netherlandic Studies 3. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1990, 1-11.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “Grappling with the Ill-Defined. Problems of Theory and Data in Synchronic Grammatical Description,” in René Amacker and Rudolf Engler, eds., Présence de Saussure: Actes du Colloque Internationale de Genève (21-23 mars 1988). Publications du Cercle Ferdinand de Saussure 1. Geneva: Librairie Droz, 1990, 187-201.
- Robert S. Kirsner. Review article of Brygida Rudzka-Ostyn (ed.) Topics in Cognitive Linguistics, Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins 1988. Studies in Language 15 (1991), 149-174.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “Het Nut van Intersubjectieve Gegevens in Taalkundige Beschrijvingen van het Nederlands.” Neerlandica Extra Muros 3 (1991) 12-20.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “A Linguistic Michelson-Morley Experiment? Dutch ‘Indirect Objects’ and the Inference of ‘Successful Transfer’,” in Thomas Shannon and
- Johan P. Snapper, eds., The Second Berkeley Conference on Dutch Linguistics 1989. Publications of the American Association for Netherlandic Studies 4. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1991, 117-137.
- Robert S. Kirsner. Review of Johan P. Snapper, De Spiegel der Verlossing in het Werk van Gerard Reve,Utrecht/ Antwerpen: Veen, Neerlandica Extra Muros 30.1. (1992) 64-67.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “Stikstof is een gas, hoor! Hoor als voorbeeld van een (on)grijpbaar partikel.” Onze Taal 7/8 (1992) 171-172.
- Robert S. Kirsner (ed.) The Low Countries and Beyond. University Press of America, Lanham / New York / London. (xiii + 325 pages).
- Robert S. Kirsner. “From Meaning to Message in Two Theories: Cognitive and Saussurean Views of the Dutch Demonstratives”, in Richard A. Geiger and Brygida Rudzka-Ostyn, eds., Conceptualizations and Mental Processing in Language, Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter,1993, 81-114.
- Robert S. Kirsner. Review of J. Gvozdanović and Th. Janssen, eds., The Function of Tense in Texts, Amsterdam, Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, 1991. Forum der Letteren 4 (1993), 303-308.
- Robert S. Kirsner. Review of Bruce Donaldson A Grammar of Afrikaans (Mouton Grammar Library 8). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter 1993. Language 2 (1994), 384-385.
- Robert S. Kirsner. ” ‘Meewerkende Voorwerpen die Niet Willen Meewerken'”, in R. Boogaart and J. Noordegraaf, eds., Nauwe Betrekkingen: Voor Theo Janssen bij Zijn Vijftigste Verjaardag. Münster: Stichting Neerlandistiek VU, Amsterdam/Nodus Publikationen 1994, 119- 128.
- Robert S. Kirsner, Vincent J. van Heuven, and Renée van “Interaction of Particle and Prosody in the Interpretation of Factual Dutch Sentences”, in Reineke Bok-Bennema and Crit Cremers, eds., Linguistics in the Netherlands 1994. Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company 1994, 107-118.
- Robert S. Kirsner. Review of Lia Korrel Duration in English: A Basic Choice Illustrated in Comparison with Dutch. [Topics in English Linguistics 5]. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 1991. Studies in Language 1 (1995) 244-248.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “Determinism Versus Contingency and Synchrony Versus Diachrony: Explaining ‘Holes’ In Dutch Grammatical Patterns,” in Z. Shetter and I. van der Cruysse, eds., Contemporary Explorations in the Culture of the Low Countries: Publications of the American Association for Netherlandic Studies 9. Lanham / New York / London 1995: University Press of America, 157-171.
- Robert S. Kirsner and Vincent J. van Heuven. “Boundary Tones and the Semantics of the Dutch Final Particles hè, hoor, zeg and joh,” in C. Cremers and M. den Dikken, eds., Linguistics in the Netherlands 1996. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company 1996, 133-146 .
- Robert S. Kirsner. “The Human Factor and the Insufficiency of Invariant Meanings,” in E. Andrews and Y. Tobin,eds. Towards a Calculus of Meaning: Studies in Markedness, Distinctive Features, and Deixis. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company 1996, 83-106.
- Robert S. Kirsner, Vincent J. van Heuven, and Johanneke Caspers. “From Request to Command: An Exploratory Experimental Study of Grammatical Form, Intonation, and Pragmatic Particle in Dutch Imperatives,” in Renée van Bezooijen and René Kager, eds. Linguistics in the Netherlands 1998. Amsterdam / Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company 1998, 135-148.
- Robert S. Kirsner and Willem A. van der Kloot. “The Pragmatics of Precision: Geometric and Non-Geometric Periphrastic Progressives in Modern English,” in Jean- Pierre Koenig, ed., Discourse and Cognition: Bridging the Gap. Stanford University: CSLI Publications, 1998, 123-140.
- Robert S. Kirsner and Vincent J. van Heuven. “How Dutch Final Particles Constrain the Construal of Utterances: Experiment and Etymology,” in Karen van Hoek, Andrej A. Kibrik and Leo Noordman (eds.) Discourse Studies in Cognitive Linguistics (Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 176). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 1999, 165-183.
- Vincent J. van Heuven, Judith Haan, and Robert S. Kirsner. “Phonetic Correlates of Sentence Type in Dutch: Statement, Question and Command, ” in Mark Swerts and Jacques Terken, eds. Proceedings of the 1999 ESCA Workshop on Dialogue and Prosody. De Veldhoven, The Netherlands. September 1st-3rd, 1999, 35-40.
- Vincent J. van Heuven and Robert S. Kirsner. “Interaction of Grammatical Form and Intonation: Two Experiments on Dutch Imperatives,” in René Kager and Renée van Bezooijen, eds., Linguistics in the Netherlands 1999.Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company 1999, 81-96.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “Empirical Pragmatics: Downtoning and Predictability in a Dutch Final Particle, in Thomas F. Shannon and Johan P. Snapper,eds., The Berkeley Conference on Dutch Linguistics 1997: Dutch Linguistics at the Millennium: University Press of America, Lanham, MD., 1999,45-62.
- Robert S. Kirsner. Review of Martin Pütz and René Dirven, eds. The Construal of Space in Language and Thought. Cognitive Linguistics Research: Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 1996. Journal of Pragmatics, Volume 32, Number 7, June 2000,1075-1085.
- Robert S. Kirsner and Vincent J. van Heuven. “Wie Het Kleine Niet Eert: Intonation and the Pragmatics of Dutch Final Particles,” in Anneke Prins, Bettina Brandt, Timothy Stevens & Thomas F. Shannon (eds.) The Low Countries and the New World(s): Travel, Discovery, Early Relations. (Publications of the American Association for Netherlandic Series 13). New York. Oxford: University Press of America, Inc. 2000, ISBN 0-7618-1945-2, 119-130.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “De deur wel dichtdoen, hè? en andere mysterieuze ” Neerlandica Extra Muros 39.2. mei 2001, 9-21.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “The Future of a Minimalist Linguistics in a Maximalist World,” in Ricardo Otheguy, Wallis Reid, and Susan Stern, eds., Signal, Meaning, and Message: Perspectives on Sign-Based Linguistics. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company 2002, 339-371.
- Vincent J. van Heuven and Robert S. Kirsner. “Interaction of Tone and Particle in the Signaling of Clause Type in Dutch,” in Hans Broekhuis and Paula Fikkert, eds. Linguistics in the Netherlands 2002. Amsterdam/ Philadelpha: John Benjamins Publishing Company 2002, 73-84.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “On the Interaction of the Dutch Pragmatic Particles hoor and hè with the Imperative and Infinitivus Pro Imperativo,” in Arie Verhagen and Jeroen M. van de Weijer , eds. Usage-Based Studies of Dutch. Utrecht: LOT, 2003, 59-96.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “Linguistics as Politics: On the Role of Alternative Approaches within Dutch Linguistics,” in R. Howell and J. Vanderwal Taylor, eds., History in Dutch Studies Lanham / New York / London 2003: University Press of America,125-139
- Robert S. Kirsner. “Linguistic Phenomena in the Works of Marga Minco and Gerard Reve,” in T. F. Shannon and J. P. Snapper, eds., Janus at the Millennium: Perspectives on Time in the Culture of the Netherlands. Lanham/New York/London 2004: University Press of America, 179-192.
- Vincent J. van Heuven and Robert S. Kirsner. “Phonetic or Phonological Contrasts in Dutch Boundary Tones?,” in Leonie Cornips and Jenny Doetjes, eds., Linguistics in the Netherlands 2004. Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company 2004, 102-113.
- Ellen Contini-Morava, Robert S. Kirsner, and Betsy Rodríguez-Bachiller, eds. Cognitive and Communicative Approaches to Linguistic Analysis. (Studies in Functional and Structural Linguistics 51. ) Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company 2004. (viii + 388 pages).
- Robert S. Kirsner. “Introduction: On Paradigms, Analyses, and Dialogue” in Ellen Contini-Morava, Robert S. Kirsner, and Betsy Rodríguez- Bachiller, eds.: Cognitive and Communicative Approaches to Linguistic Analysis. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company 2004, 1-18.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “Over Uitdrukkingen met Finaal maar” Voortgang: Jaarboek voor de Neerlandistiek,Volume 24, 2006, 61-71.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “On Translation, Linguistics, and Dutch Studies in America, .” in Margriet Bruijn Lacy. ed. Dutch Studies in a Globalized World. (Studies in Dutch Language and Culture 3), Münster. Nodus Publikationen 2009, 165-178.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “Instructional Meanings, Iconicity, and L’Arbitraire du Signe in the Analysis of the Afrikaans Demonstratives.” In Bob de Jonge and Yishai Tobin eds. Linguistic Theory and Empirical Evidence (Studies in Functional and Structural Linguistics 64.) Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company 2011, 97-137.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “2005 Arie Verhagen: Constructiegrammatica en ‘usage based’ taalkunde. Nederlandse Taalkunde 197-222.” International Neerlandistiek 50.2.133-135 (2012).
- Robert S. Kirsner. Qualitative – Quantitative Analyses of Dutch and Afrikaans Grammar and Lexicon (Studies in Functional and Structural Linguistics 67). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company 2014 (xi + 239 pages).
- Robert S. Kirsner. “Doing Grammatical Semantics as if it were Phonetics.” In Johanneke Caspers, Yiya Chen, Willemijn Heeren, Jos Pacilly, Niels O. Schiller, and Ellen van Zanten (eds.) Above and Beyond the Segments: Experimental Linguistics and Phonetics. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company 2014, 165-173.
- Robert S. Kirsner. “A Return to Zullen: The Linguistic Status of Je zal maar X.” In Hogeweg, S. Lestrade & P. de Swart (eds.) Addenda. Nijmegen: Radboud University 2015, 227-237.
Teaching on Recall
Though he retired in July 2016, Professor Kirsner is on recall through 2018-2019, teaching two courses a year. In 2016-2017 he taught the two literature in translation courses listed below, Afrikaans 40 and Dutch 13. It is fair to say that, in both cases, Prof. Kirsner was able to open the eyes of many students to the work of excellent modern authors who most people in the United States (including people in Comparative Literature) have never heard of (though in a more perfect world they would have). Since Professor Kirsner is a linguist he also paid attention to differences between published translations and the original texts, showing how in many cases the only available published English translations are not nearly as good as the original.
In 2017-18 Professor Kirsner plans to teach Honors 84, which deals with such topics as French versus Dutch in Northern Belgium and Afrikaans versus English in South Africa. He also will teach German C124/C238, the first of my 2 linguistics courses. Prof. Kirsner would recommend this particular course to anyone at all interested in how languages work (even teaching assistants in language courses) because it introduces the student to two theoretical frameworks which (in contrast to the formal approaches taught in the Linguistics Department) are directly useful in language teaching, literary stylistics, and translation theory. For an example of the kind of phenomena considered, see item A43 in his Curriculum Vitae.
- Afrikaans 40. From Oppressed to Oppressor and Beyond: Literature in Afrikaans from Preapartheid to Postapartheid Era in English Translation.
- Dutch 13. Modern Dutch and Flemish Literature in Translation.
- German C142/C238. Linguistic Theory and Grammatical Description.
- Honors 84. Conflicts between Languages. Seminar, three hours. Introduction to potentially conflict-ridden language situations in three countries abroad and discussion of various aspects of minority languages in the U.S. P/NP or letter grading.