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Dr M.R.E. (Merlijn) Breunesse

Postdoctoral researcher
Faculty of Humanities
Capaciteitsgroep Griekse en Latijnse talen en culturen

Visiting address
  • Turfdraagsterpad 9
Postal address
  • Turfdraagsterpad 9
    1012 XT Amsterdam
  • Profile

    Merlijn Breunesse is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam. She obtained a BA in Classics (cum laude) from VU University, a MA in Linguistics (magna cum laude) from KU Leuven, and a PhD (magna cum laude) from Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena. Her current research focuses on Roman Comedy, but other interests include identity construction, linguistic iconicity, grammaticalization, and linguistic typology

  • Research projects (past and present)

    2019–present Common ground management in Roman Comedy

    As a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam, Merlijn studies anchoring devices in ancient Roman comedy. She is especially interested in the strategies used by the comic poets Plautus and Terence to keep their spectators engaged and entertained. Merlijn's research is part of the Anchoring Innovation project, in which she collaborates with scholars from various disciplines to investigate how new ideas are grounded in old knowledge in the ancient world. As part of this project, Merlijn spent January of 2020 at the Laboratoire d'Analyse Statistique des Langues Anciennes (LASLA) of the University of Liège.

    Anchoring Innovation LASLA Project: Common ground management in Roman Comedy

    2016–2019 Spatial deixis in (diachronic) language development

    Merlijn's doctoral research focused on deixis. Based on a sample of 180 languages, Merlijn investigated the syntax, semantics, and iconicity of spatial demonstratives worldwide. Moreover, based on corpus data, she analyzed the (inter)subjectivity of demonstratives in Latin. This resulted in a PhD thesis titled Demonstratives in space and discourse: A synchronic and Diachronic analysis. Merlijn's PhD project was part of the DComm European Training Network, a highly international research network that focused on deictic communication in various disciplines (linguistics, (developmental) psychology, neuroscience, robotic engineering, architecture). During this project, Merlijn completed research stays at the University of Aarhus (Denmark) and the University of Manchester (UK).

    DComm ETN Project: Spatial deixis in (diachronic) language development
  • Publications



    • Breunesse, M. R. E. (2021). (Inter)subjectification and the Latin demonstratives: A corpus study. In A. M. M. Rodríguez (Ed.), Linguisticae dissertationes. Current perspectives on Latin grammar, lexicon and pragmatics. Selected papers from the 20th International Colloquium on Latin Linguistics (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, June 17–21, 2019 (pp. 765-782). Ediciones Clásicas.


    • Diessel, H., & Breunesse, M. R. E. (2020). A typology of demonstrative clause linkers. In Å. Næss, A. Margetts, & Y. Treis (Eds.), Demonstratives in discourse. Language Science Press.


    • Breunesse, M. R. E. (2019). Cicero vs. Mark Antony: Identity construction and ingroup/outgroup formation in Philippics One and Three. In L. Gils, C. Kroon, & R. Risselada (Eds.), Clause and discourse (pp. 448-463). De Gruyter.


    • Breunesse, M. (2021). Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome (KNIR) Postdoc Scholarship.


    • Breunesse, M. (2019-). OIKOS National Research School in Classical Studies in The Netherlands, Research School OIKOS.
    • Breunesse, M. (2019). Anchoring Innovation.

    Talk / presentation

    • van Gils, L. (speaker) & Breunesse, M. (speaker) (15-4-2021). Cicero and political agency in Late-Republican Rome, Agents of Change.
    • Breunesse, M. (speaker) (22-11-2019). Anchoring demonstratieven in Latijns drama, Biannual Colloquium of the OIKOS research Group ‘The language of Literature’, Katwijk aan Zee.
    • Breunesse, M. (speaker) & Diessel, H. (speaker) (7-2019). Iconicity in spatial deixis: A cross-linguistic study of 180 demonstrative systems, Deictic Communication: Theory and Application, Norwich.
    • Breunesse, M. (speaker) (6-2019). Intersubjectivity in the Latin demonstratives: A diachronic corpus study, 20th International Colloquium on Latin Linguistics, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
    • Breunesse, M. (speaker) & Bloom, B. (speaker) (7-2018). The role of (inter)subjectification in the development of the Norwegian preproprial article into the psychologically distal demonstrative, 20th International Congress of Linguists, Cape Town.
    • Diessel, H. (speaker) & Breunesse, M. (speaker) (7-2018). Demonstratives: Sound symbolism and grammaticalization, Historical and comparative linguistics in Jena, Jena.
    • Breunesse, M. (speaker) & Diessel, H. (speaker) (15-6-2018). A typology of clause-combining demonstratives, Discourse Functions of Demonstratives, Oslo.
    • Breunesse, M. (invited speaker) (5-2018). Cicero vs. Mark Antony: Identity construction in Philippics I and III, University of Belgrade.
    • Breunesse, M. (speaker) (6-2017). Demonstrative typology, Language as a Form of Action, Rome.
    • Breunesse, M. (speaker) (4-2017). Cicero vs. Mark Antony: Identity construction and outgroup formation in Philippics I and III., 19th International Colloquium on Latin Linguistics, Munich.
    • Breunesse, M. (speaker) (11-2015). Referent identification in Latin: The function of the demonstrative ille., Biannual Conference of the OIKOS Research Group 'The Language of Literature', Katwijk aan Zee.


    • Breunesse, M. (organiser) (10-2018). DComm Workshop on Dissemination and Academic Skills, Jena (organising a conference, workshop, ...).


    • Breunesse, M. R. E. (2020). Demonstratives in space and discourse: A synchronic and diachronic analysis.
    This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library or the Pure staff of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure to edit your publications. Log in to Personal Page Publication Selection tool to manage the visibility of your publications on this list.
  • Ancillary activities
    No known ancillary activities