Ten Minutes With… Tine Breban

Posted on September 23, 2015 by

A familiar face to the MA students to whom she is the Academic Advisor, Tine is a lecturer in Linguistics specializing in English grammar. Growing up in Belgium, Tine is the University’s resident expert in Belgian chocolate and Dutch idioms (particularly ones involving animals). After thinking she’d never leave Belgium, Tine changed her mind after a stint in California and began working in Manchester in 2012.

Manchet: Why is linguistics important?
Tine Breban: What I like is that language is something that people use all the time and they are super creative with. And when you study language change you see how people come up with things and how something that meant one thing now means something completely different. I like that. I like finding out how creative people are and how they shape that.

M: If Manchet was to challenge you to a duel, what one thing would you definitely beat us in?
TB: Distinguishing Belgian chocolate brands. I have extensive knowledge and I like basically any chocolate.

M: If you weren’t a linguist, what would you be doing?
TB: Well my ideal job would involve research but also theatre or opera, so research for productions. It is an actual job that involves historical research into the context of plays and productions [M: Tine’s dream job is as a Dramaturg].

M: What’s your favourite saying?
TB: It’s a Dutch one. I love Dutch sayings. They all involve animals and my favourite one is translated as ‘You never know how a cow catches a hare’. It’s one that my mother would tell me. It means, you never know how you might get what you want or how something might happen.

M: Have you ever experienced a case of mistaken identity?
TB: There’s a few people who have the same name as me who work at the university, and one day one of the Professors of Dutch linguistics talked to me at the water cooler and asked “Are you going to Australia with my son next week? and I said “Erm, I don’t think so!”. Turns out it was someone else with my surname. And there’s another Tine Breban at the university who’s a neurologist, so I often get invited to neurology conferences. We also used the same catering company once so my parents ended up with the bill for her wedding reception.

M: What area of linguistics would you go into if not syntax?
TB: I’ve always liked conversation analysis and also forensic linguistics is really interesting, I’d like that.

M: Describe the LEL department using 3 words (of any language)
TB: I was thinking about Latin mottos and the one I thought of was Litteris et amicitiae (Science and Friendship). Because we’re all friends, we all like each other, it’s a really friendly department and that’s why I like working here.

Image is from Sebastian Hoffmann’s photo collection.