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
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.
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).