Professor Willem Hollmann

Professor of Linguistics

Research Interests

My research mainly falls into three "strands" (where I use scare quotes to signal that these strands aren't completely separate but overlap to quite a large extent):

  • Cognitive-typological linguistic theory and methodology. I am interested in investigating the scope and limits of the cognitive-typological view of language (especially grammar and semantics, which on this view are very much intertwined), and its associated methodologies (prominently including corpus linguistics).
  • Language change and the history of English. I have an active research interest in mechanisms of change, both language-internal (roughly speaking, grammaticalisation) and external (social factors). My research focuses especially on change in English, but that's not so much because of any special interest in this language -- instead, it's mainly because of the excellent availability of historical data.
  • Dialect grammar, particularly of Lancashire dialect. I'm interested in dialect grammar, and do research especially on Lancashire dialect. I don't describe the dialect just for the sake of it -- rather, I try to demonstrate how non-standard language data may, and should, be used to inform linguistic theory at large (which over the course of the history of the discipline has been somewhat preoccupied with standard varieties), including its research methods. Conversely, I also show that traditional dialectology and sociolinguistics may benefit from a stronger interface with advances in (cognitive-typological) theoretical linguistics. This places some of my research within the area of "cognitive sociolinguistics" that has recently emerged at the interface of these two fields.

In addition to these areas, I also have an active interest in forensic linguistics -- especially the study of linguistic cues to deception. In this relation I am particularly interested in the possibility that current theories, which have often been suggested by psychologists, might be refined from a theoretical linguistic point of view.

Papers, chapters, reviews, and my PhD thesis can be downloaded here:

Papers in refereed journals:

Chapters in edited volumes:

  • To appear. From social psychology to cognitive sociolinguistics: the self-serving bias and interplay with gender and modesty in language use. In Nikolas Gisborne and And Rosta (eds.), Word grammar, cognition and dependency. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • 2019. Word classes. In Bas Aarts, Jill Bowie & Gergana Popova (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of English grammar, 281-300. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • 2017. Cognitive sociolinguistics. In Barbara Dancygier (ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics, 533-548. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • 2016a. Forensic linguistics. In Marcello Giovanelli & Dan Clayton (eds.), Knowing about language, 137-148. Oxon/New York: Routledge.
  • 2016b. Word classes, linguistic historiography and language education: deconstructing the structuralist strawman. In Anne Bannink & Wim Honselaar (eds.), From variation to iconicity, 169-183. Amsterdam: Pegasus.
  • 2014a. Hollmann, Willem B. Word classes: Towards a more comprehensive usage-based account. In Nikolas Gisborne & Willem B. Hollmann (eds.), Theory and data in cognitive linguistics, 211-238. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjmamins. [reprint of 2012]
  • 2014b. What do adjectives sound like? Papers from the 14th National Conference of the Japanese Cognitive Linguistics Association, Vol. 14, 749-754.
  • 2013. Hollmann, Willem B. Constructions in cognitive sociolinguistics. In Thomas Hoffmann and Graeme Trousdale (eds.), The Oxford handbook of construction grammar, 491-509. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • 2010. Croft, William, Johanna Barddal, Willem B. Hollmann, Violeta Sotirova, and Chiaki Taoka. Revising Talmy's typological classification of complex events. In Hans C. Boas (ed.), Contrastive construction grammar, 201-236. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • 2009a. Willem B. Semantic change. In Jonathan Culpeper, Francis Katamba, Paul Kerswill, and Tony McEnery (eds.), English language: description, variation and context, 301-313. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
  • 2009b. Hollmann, Willem B. Grammatical change. In Jonathan Culpeper, Francis Katamba, Paul Kerswill, and Tony McEnery (eds.), English language: description, variation and context, 314-333. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
  • 2007. Siewierska, Anna and Willem B. Hollmann. Ditransitive clauses in English with special reference to Lancashire dialect. In Mike Hannay and Gerard J. Steen (eds.), Structural-functional studies in English grammar, 83-102. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
  • 2006. Hollmann, Willem B. Passivisability of English periphrastic causatives. In Stefan Th. Gries and Anatol Stefanowitsch (eds.), Corpora in cognitive linguistics: corpus-based approaches to syntax and lexis, 193-223. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • 2004. Hollmann, Willem B. The iconicity of complementation in Present-day English causatives. In Constantino Maeder, Olga Fischer,and William J. Herlofsky (eds.), Outside-in - inside-out. Iconicity in language and literature Vol. 4, 287-306. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Edited volumes:

PhD thesis:


  • I write about language education when I can, and have covered topics such as grammar teaching (on The Conversation, in the NATE journal Primary Matters, and, with Prof. Dick Hudson, in TES), on common but harmful misconceptions around standard English and, together with Dr. Gee Macrory and Prof. Cathie Wallace, on synthetic phonics and its use in primary education.
  • I reviewed 5 books on language change, grammar, and variation in the English language for the Times Higher Education textbook guide 22 May 2008. The books were Aarts, Bas (2007) Syntactic gradience: the nature of grammatical indeterminacy; Britain, David, ed. (2007) Language in the British isles; Carnie, Andrew (2007) Constituent structure; Denison, David & Richard M. Hogg, eds. (2006) A history of the English language; Heine, Bernd & Tania Kuteva (2007) The genesis of grammar: a reconstruction. The reviews can be downloaded here.