Photographer: Onbekend

prof. dr. J.C. (Jeannette) Schaeffer

  • Faculty of Humanities
    Capaciteitsgroep Taalwetenschap
  • Visiting address
    P.C. Hoofthuis
    Spuistraat 134  Room number: 636
  • Postal address:
    Spuistraat  134
    1012 VB  Amsterdam
    T: 0205252083


Short vita

(for a longer, downloadable CV, see below)


I am a linguist specializing in language acquisition by typical, impaired, and multilingual populations. I earned my MA degree from Utrecht University in 1990, my PhD degree from UCLA in 1997, and was a Postdoc at MIT until 1998. From 1998-2011 I worked at Ben Gurion University in Israel as an Assistant and an Associate Professor. I have been affiliated with the University of Amsterdam since 2011.


Research interests

My research varies from the study of language acquisition by typically developing monolingual Dutch-, English-, Italian-, Hebrew-, and Russian-acquiring children, to multilingualism (including L2) and the study of language disorders, particularly in individuals with Specific Language Impairment, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Hemispherectomy.

The recurring theme in my research is the question as to whether grammar and pragmatics are two separate language components or not, and what their respective roles and interaction are in language development. The linguistic phenomena I investigate to this end include object scrambling, clitic placement, Wh-movement, article drop, article choice, the mass/count distinction, subject drop, subject-verb agreement, Root Infinitives, Case, implicatures. Besides using behavioral experimental techniques, I also have a special interest in brain-imaging and electrophysiological techniques to collect data.



Authored books

Schaeffer, Jeannette (2012) Specific Language Impairment - Evidence for the division of labor and the interaction between grammar and pragmatics . Saarbruecken, Germany: Lambert Academic Publishing.

Schaeffer, Jeannette (2000) The acquisition of direct object scrambling and clitic placement: Syntax and pragmatics . Amsterdam: John Benjamins.


Publications in A-list journals (ERIH) 

(for downloadables, see below)


Hacohen, Aviya and Jeannette Schaeffer (2007). Subject realization in early Hebrew/English bilingual acquisition: The role of crosslinguistic influence. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 10(3): 333-344. Impact factor: 1.636.

Curtiss, Susan and Jeannette Schaeffer (2005). Syntactic development in children with hemispherectomy: The I-, D-, and C-Systems. Brain and Language 94: 147-166. Impact factor: 3.105.

Schaeffer, Jeannette and Lisa Matthewson (2005). Grammar and pragmatics in the acquisition of article systems. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 23: 53-101. Impact factor: 1.302.

Schaeffer, Jeannette and Dorit Ben Shalom (2004). On Root Infinitives in child Hebrew. Language Acquisition 12 (1): 83-96.

Wexler, Ken, Jeannette Schaeffer and Gerard Bol (2004). Verbal syntax and morphology in Dutch normal and SLI children: How developmental data can play an important role in morphological theory. Syntax 7(2): 148-198.

Schaeffer, Jeannette (2000). Aphasia research and theoretical linguistics guiding each other. Behavioral and Brain Sciences , 23:1: 50-51. Impact factor: 15.6.



Publications in B-list journals (ERIH) and international journals outside the Humanities

(for downloadables, see below)


Curtiss, Susan, Jeff MacSwan, Jeannette Schaeffer, Murat Kural, Tetsuya Sano (2004). GCS: A grammatical coding system for natural language data. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers 36(3): 459-480. Impact factor: 2.92.

Schaeffer, Jeannette (2002a). On the acquisition of reference. Glot International 6(9/10): 67-71.

Schaeffer, Jeannette (2002b). The mystery of children's embedded V2. Glot International 6(9/10): 307-313.

Embick, David, Martin Hackl, Jeannette Schaeffer, Meltem Kelepir and Alec Marantz (2001). A magnetoencephalographic component whose latency reflects lexical frequency. Cognitive Brain Research 10: 345-348. Impact factor: 2.551.

Schaeffer, Jeannette (1998). Maaike Verrips' "Potatoes must peel: The acquisition of the Dutch passive". Glot International 2(9/10): 10-13.



Grammar and Pragmatics in Specific Language Impairment and Autism Spectrum Disorder


Period: March 2012 - March 2014


In this project we investigate grammatical and pragmatic development in Dutch-speaking children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI), Dutch-speaking children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and typically developing (TD) monolingual Dutch-speaking children between the ages of 6 and 12 years old.  The goal of the project is to find a double dissociation between grammar and pragmatics. As for the grammatical phenomena, we examine subject-verb agreement / finiteness and the mass/count distinction. The pragmatic phenomena under consideration are article choice and direct object scrambling. To collect data, we use elicited production tasks, comprehension tasks, and judgment tasks. Hypothesizing that children with SLI are mainly impaired in their grammar, but not in their pragmatics, I predict that they perform well on article choice and direct object scrambling, but that they make more errors than their age mates on subject-verb agreement / finiteness and the mass/count distinction. Furthermore, hypothesizing that children with ASD are mainly impaired in their pragmatics, but not in their grammar, I predict that they perform well on subject-verb agreement / finiteness and the mass/count distinction, but that they make more errors than their age mates on article choice and direct object scrambling. If the predictions are borne out, the results would provide support for the domain specificity of grammar vs. pragmatics.


Currently, two students participate in this research project:

Merel van Witteloostuijn - rMA student Linguistics, Utrecht University

Leanne Matimba - BA student Linguistics, University of Amsterdam


If you are interested in this project and would like to obtain research experience, please contact me!




  • Schaeffer, J. (2017). Unravelling the complexity of Direct Object Scrambling. Language Science , 60, 173-198. [details] 
  • Schaeffer, J. C. (2017). Are children with high-functioning autism better at syntax than typically developing children? The case of Dutch object relative clauses. In Proceedings of the 41st Boston University Conference on Language Development 2016. Somerville: Cascadilla Press.
  • Paltiel-Gedalyovich, L. R., & Schaeffer, J. (2017). Scales and non-scales in (Hebrew) child language. In C. Lee, F. Kiefer, & M. Krifka (Eds.), Contrastiveness in Information Structure, Alternatives, and Scalar Implicatures (pp. 339-358). (Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory; Vol. 91). Cham: Springer. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-10106-4_17  [details] 


  • Schaeffer, J. (2016). Linguistic and other cognitive abilities in children with Specific Language Impairment as compared to children with High-Functioning Autism. Language Acquisition. DOI: 10.1080/10489223.2016.1188928 
  • Siekman, B., & Schaeffer, J. C. (2016). Object relative clauses in Dutch-speaking children with High-Functioning Autism (HFA). In J. Audring, & S. Lestrade (Eds.), Linguistics in The Netherlands. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
  • Hacohen, A., & Schaeffer, J. (2016). On the mass/count distinction in Hebrew: Language acquisition and language change. Journal of Child Language Acquisition and Development, 4 (2), 34-61. [details] 


  • Blom, E., Schaeffer, J., & Tsimpli, I. M. (2015). Reference and referentiality in native and learner grammars. Lingua, 155, 1-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.lingua.2015.01.005  [details] 
  • Creemers, A., & Schaeffer, J. C. (2015). Grammatical and pragmatic properties of the DP in children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) and in children with High Functioning Autism (HFA). In B. Köhnlein, & J. Audring (Eds.), Linguistics in The Netherlands 2015 (pp. 16-32). (Linguistics in The Netherlands; No. 32). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. DOI: 10.1075/avt.32.02cre  [details] 
  • Creemers, A., & Schaeffer, J. C. (2015). Specific Language Impairment and High Functioning Autism: Evidence for Distinct Etiologies and for Modularity of Grammar and Pragmatics. In L. Perkins, R. Dudley, J. Gerard, & K. Hitczenko (Eds.), Proceedings of the 6th Conference on Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America (GALANA 2015). (pp. 1-12). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press. [details] 
  • Schaeffer, J. C. (2015). On the link between complex predictive abilities and memory in language acquisition. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, 5(4), 522-527. DOI: 10.1075/lab.5.4.14sch  [details] 
  • Schaeffer, J. C., van Witteloostuijn, M. T. G., & de Haan, D. (in press). Overgeneration of Indefinite Articles in Autism and SLI. Boston University Conference on Language Development. Proceedings, 39.
  • Eitan, R., & Schaeffer, J. (2015). On Focus Encoding in Adult and Child Hebrew. In C. Hamann, & E. Ruigendijk (Eds.), Language Acquisition and Development: proceedings of GALA 2013 (pp. 98-119). Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. [details] 
  • Wexler, K., Schaeffer, J., & Bol, G. W. (2015). Verbal Syntax and Morphology in Dutch Normal and SLI Children. In A. Zachary (Ed.), Proceedings of the Fourteenth Annual IATL Conference. (pp. 115-134). Jerusalem: Academon.


  • Schaeffer, J., van Witteloostuijn, M., & de Haan, D. (2014). Article choice in children with High Functioning Autism (HFA) and in children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI). AVT Publications, 31, 107-128. DOI: 10.1075/avt.31.09sch  [details] 


  • Becker, M., & Schaeffer, J. (2013). Animacy, Argument Structure and Unaccusatives in Child English. In M. Becker, J. Grinstead, & J. Rothman (Eds.), Generative linguistics and acquisition: studies in honor of Nina M. Hyams. (pp. 13-33). (Language acquisition and language disorders; No. 54). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. DOI: 10.1075/lald.54.01bec  [details] 


  • Schaeffer, J. C., & Ben Shalom, D. (2009). On child subjects in a partially pro-drop language. In S. Armon Lotem, S. Rothstein, & G. Danon (Eds.), Generative approaches to Hebrew linguistics. (pp. 245-266). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Paltiel-Gedalyovich, L., & Schaeffer, J. C. (2009). Scales and non-scales in (Hebrew) child language. In P. Manghyu (Ed.), Proceedings of CIL 18. Seoul, Korea.


  • Gordishevsky, G., & Schaeffer, J. C. (2008). The development and interaction of Case and Number in early Russian. In P. Guijarro-Fuentes, P. Larrañaga, & J. Clibbens (Eds.), First language acquisition of morphology and syntax: perspectives across languages and learners. (pp. 31-59). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Hyams, N., & Schaeffer, J. C. (2008). Auxiliary and clitic omissions in Italian children's participle constructions. In Proceedings of GALA 2007. Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.
  • Paltiel-Gedalyovich, L., Hacohen, A., Eitan, R., & Schaeffer, J. C. (2008). The acquisition of Hebrew tense. Boston University Conference on Language Development. Proceedings, 32.


  • Hacohen, A., & Schaeffer, J. C. (2007). Subject realization in early Hebrew/English bilingual acquisition: The role of crosslinguistic influence. Bilingualism : Language and Cognition, 10(3), 333-344. DOI: 10.1017/s1366728907003100 


  • Schaeffer, J. C. (2006). Functional Categories across Child Populations. In A. Belikova, L. Meroni, & M. Umeda (Eds.), Proceedings of GALANA 2. Montreal: McGill University.


  • Berends, S., Schaeffer, J. C., & Sleeman, A. P. (2017). Cross-linguistic Influence in Adult Second Language Learners: Dutch Quantitative Pronoun Constructions. In BUCLD 41 Proceedings Cascadilla Press.


  • Schaeffer, J. (2012). Specific Language Impairment - Evidence for the division of labor and the interaction between grammar and pragmatics. Saarbrücken: LAP Lambert Academic Publishing. [details] 


  • Schaeffer, J. (2015). Taalverwerving: Kinderspel of Monnikenwerk? (Oratiereeks). Amsterdam: Universiteit van Amsterdam. [details] 

Journal editor

  • Schaeffer, Jeannette (member of editorial board) (2015-): Applied Psycholinguistics (Journal).
  • Schaeffer, Jeannette (reviewer), Tsimpli, I.M. (reviewer) & Blom, W.B.T. (reviewer) (2015): Lingua (Journal).
  • Schaeffer, Jeannette (editor) (2003-): Language Acquisition (Journal).

Talk / presentation

  • Schaeffer, Jeannette (speaker) (10-2-2017): Een vergelijking tussen taalproblemen in kinderen met ASS en kinderen met SLI/TOS., Kennisdag Koninklijke Nederlandse Kentalis.
  • Schaeffer, Jeannette (speaker) (1-11-2016): Are children with High-Functioning Autism better at syntax than typically developing children? The case of Dutch Object Relative clauses., Boston University Conference on Language Development.
  • Schaeffer, Jeannette (speaker) (6-4-2016): Taalmoeilijkheden in kinderen met een Autisme Spectrum Stoornis., Autisme Week .


  • Schaeffer, Jeannette (participant) (2017): International Kick-off Workshop Language Abilities (participating in a conference, workshop, ...).
  • Schaeffer, Jeannette (organiser) (22-3-2017 - 24-3-2017): Workshop: Language Abilities in Children with Autism (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
  • Schaeffer, Jeannette (organiser), Blom, W.B.T. (organiser) & Cornips, Leonie (organiser) (13-1-2017): Workshop: Crosslinguistics Influence in Bilingualism (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
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.
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