Rik Smits (linguist)

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Reinier Johannes Charles "Rik" Smits (born 1953 in The Hague) is a Dutch linguist, author, translator and editor with a wide range of interests.[1]

Rik Smits
Rik Smits portrait.jpg
BornReinier Johannes Charles Smits
(1953-09-30) 30 September 1953 (age 66)
The Hague, Netherlands
OccupationLinguist, author, editor
ResidenceAmsterdam, Netherlands

As a linguist he specialized in generative syntax, taking a PhD in General Linguistics in 1989.[2][3] From then on, he mainly pursued a writing career, informing the general public on linguistic matters theoretical and practical. Apart from linguistics, he published hundreds of articles and interviews on subjects like the brain, ICT and its ramifications, modern media, intellectual property, freedom of speech, copyright and other fundamental rights, history, ethics and politics.[citation needed]

Smits published books on subjects ranging from language via handedness and laterality to history and French cuisine, mostly in Dutch.[4][5][6] Books in English comprise The Puzzle of Left-handedness, which deals with the cultural, biological and evolutionary aspects of human handedness and the notions of left, right and symmetry in biology, psychology, art and life in general, and the above-mentioned Dawn, the Origins of Language and the Modern Human Mind, an inquiry into why, how and when the human language faculty - and with it the truly modern mind - developed.[7][8][9][10][11] For the earlier Dutch version of this book he won the LOT-award 2010.[12] Smits shows that human language is not only truly human, representing a clear and fundamental break between "us" and the animal kingdom, and that it could not have arisen for communicative purposes - that came later.

From 2008-2015 he was the editor of De Republikein (The Republican), a quarterly on modern constitutional democracy and citizenship.[13]

Translations include Simon Goldhill's Love, Sex and Tragedy; how the Ancient World Shapes our Lives (Liefde, seks en tragedie; hoe de oudheid ons heeft gevormd, Nieuw Amsterdam, 2012), Bill O'Reilly & Martin Dugard's Killing Kennedy; the End of Camelot (Killing Kennedy, het einde van een droom, Nieuw Amsterdam, 2012) and Litter; how other People's Rubbish Shapes our Lives (Andermans rotzooi, Nieuw Amsterdam, 2012) by Theodore Dalrymple.


Title Publisher/year Genre Notes
The Art of Verbal Welfare Reaktion Books Culture, sociology In preparation
Dawn: The Origins of Language and the Modern Human Mind Transaction Publishers, 2016 ISBN 978-1-4128-6265-3 Science
The Puzzle of Left-Handedness Reaktion Books/Chicago University Press, 2011 ISBN 978-1-86189-873-9 Science
Eurogrammar 1: The Relative and Cleft Constructions of the Germanic and Romance Language Foris/Walter de Gruyter, 1989 ISBN 978-90-6765-434-0 Doctoral Thesis
In Dutch
Rebellen, Een dwarse geschiedenis van 200 jaar Nederland Nieuw Amsterdam, 2013 ISBN 978-90-468-1578-6 History
Het raadsel van linkshandigheid Nieuw Amsterdam, 2010 ISBN 978-90-468-0744-6 Science
Dageraad, Hoe taal de mens maakte Nieuw Amsterdam, 2009 SBN 978-90-468-0389-9 Science
Handboek Nederlands Bijleveld, 2004 ISBN 90-6131-956-0 Language with Liesbeth Koenen
E-mail etiquette Podium, 2000 ISBN 90-5759-253-3 Language with Liesbeth Koenen
La Carte, Tafelwoordenboek voor de Franse Keuken Atlas, 1997 / Podium, 2002 ISBN 978-90-5759-191-4 Travel, food App iOS/Android
De Keuken van Argus Atlas, 1996 ISBN 90-254-0528-2 Journalism with Liesbeth Koenen and Mans Kuipers
Basishandleiding Nederlands Bijleveld, 1995-2004 ISBN 90-6131-955-2 Language with Liesbeth Koenen
De Linkshandige Picador Nijgh & Van Ditmar, 1993 ISBN 90-388-7045-0 Science
Cultureel Woordenboek Anthos, 1992/2003 Language with Liesbeth Koenen
Peptalk - Engels Woordgebruik in de Nederlandse Taal Nijgh & Van Ditmar, 1992 ISBN 90-388-4346-1 Language with Liesbeth Koenen


  1. ^ Transaction Publishers
  2. ^ Smits, R.J.C. Eurogrammar 1: the Relative and Cleft Constructions of the Germanic and Romance Languages. Foris/Walter deGruyter.
  3. ^ Harford, Carolyn. "Eurogrammar: The relative and cleft constructions of the Germanic and Romance languages By R. J. C. Smits (review)". Project Muse. Linguistics Society of America. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  4. ^ Spaans, Nico. "Boekbespreking Dageraad" (PDF). UNIDE. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  5. ^ Holman, Theodor. "OBA live: Hoofdgast Rik Smits over zijn boek Rebellen". Human television. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  6. ^ Venselaar, Lisette. "Tafelwoordenboek app La Carte". Onze Franse Keuken. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  7. ^ "The Puzzle of Left-handedness". Times Higher Education. 22 September 2011.
  8. ^ Smits, Rik (13 April 2012). "Lefties aren't special after all". New York Times. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  9. ^ "Interview Wim Brands/VPRO television". tvblik.
  10. ^ Willingham, Daniel T. (5 October 2011). "Do Southpaws Rule the World". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  11. ^ Smith, PD (25 September 2012). "The Puzzle of Left-handedness by Rik Smits - Review". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  12. ^ Hulstijn, Jan (February 2011). "De Grote Taaldag" (PDF). KATblad (99): 21.
  13. ^ "De Republikein". De Republikein. Retrieved 28 February 2016.