Stef Spronck, PhD, is a linguist with a particular interest in the indigenous languages of Australia. Dr Spronck defended his doctoral dissertation on linguistics at the Australian National University in 2016. After completing his PhD, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Leuven, and he has come to the HUH programme from the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Since 2008 Dr Spronck has been working with the Ngarinyin people of the western Kimberley region to document and describe their language, which, like most Australian Aboriginal languages, is severely endangered. He is currently also studying other languages of the Worrorran language family. Stef's research focuses on the relation between sociality and grammar, dealing with questions about how addressivity shapes grammatical categories, what structural means languages have available to express perspective and how they (do not) use them, and the semiotic diversity of language structure. Grammatical topics at the nexus of these interests are reported speech, modality/evidentiality and discourse reference.
Dr Spronck’s ongoing project is called Singers and Composers, and it is funded by a Language Description grant from CoEDL, ANU.
Within the HUH programme Dr Spronck examines reported speech/thought constructions in which a speaker both ascribes a belief to some other speaker (or to herself at an earlier moment in time) and states that this belief is wrong. Such ‘mistaken belief constructions’ invoke multiple, contrasting perspectives at the same time, posing problems for the traditional analyses of speaker perspective in language, yet they remain little studied. Based on his corpus of the Australian language Ungarinyin and related languages within the Australian Worroran family, which he has collected during and since his PhD research, Dr Spronck studies the diversity of uses, meanings and structures involved in expressions of mistaken belief. The aim is to arrive at a detailed examination of how speakers can both represent and comment on other minds within a single clausal/sentential construction, in Australian indigenous languages and beyond, and explore potential implications for linguistic theory and grammatical description.
Dr Spronck is working in HUH from 1.11.2017 to 30.10.2020.
Stef Spronck’s Research Profile in the University of Helsinki’s Research Portal