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Mous, Maarten

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Maarten Mous, born on Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles, in 1955. Ph.D. from Leiden University. Professor of African Linguistics at Leiden University.

Fellow (1 February 2014 - 30 June 2014)

CONTROLLING LANGUAGE

Research Question

To what extent do we have control over our use of language, to what end do we try to control it, what mechanisms do we have at our disposal to manipulate our language use, what are the general properties and limitations of these, how do we shape our identity and society by controlling our language?

Project Description

We speak without thinking about grammar but we also watch our language all the time. We do this mainly for fear/respect or to show/hide who we are, but also for fun and love of beauty. We can think of taboo, secret languages but also name avoidance, slang, argot, and many instances of youth language. The book discusses for a first time all these phenomena together in an attempt to get a deeper understanding of what we can do when we try to control our language and which strategy works for what purpose.

I would also like to learn more on the interdisciplinary insights into consciousness in preparation to research on the emergence of linguistic conventions: how does a society change their language?

Selected Publications

1) Mous, Maarten 2003. The Making of a Mixed Language: The Case of Ma’a/Mbugu Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

2) Kiessling, Roland & Maarten Mous 2004 “Urban Youth Languages in Africa” Anthropological Linguistics 46(3): 303-341.

3) Mous, Maarten 2003. “The linguistic properties of lexical manipulation and its relevance for Ma’a and for mixed languages in general” In The Mixed language Debate, ed. by Peter Bakker and Yaron Matras, pp. 209-235. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

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