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  • Foto: Gabriele Neumann

Research Groups

The professorships and research groups of the Institute of German Linguistics (IGS) cover a wide range of the field. They specifically focus on the theory of language and on psycholinguistics, on language history, linguistic typology, text and pragmatics, German as a foreign language, clinical linguistics, neurolinguistics, phonetics and speech science. The IGS is excellently represented in key research areas that are intensively discussed internationally at present. The joint research programme "theory and empiricism of language dynamics and language cognition" reflects common research interests of the IGS and of the Research Center Deutscher Sprachatlas (DSA).

The research focus of the IGS rests on three pillars, which in turn form a strong network both among themselves but also with other fields within and outside of the faculty. These focuses are:

  • Language variation/language dynamics
  • Communication and pragmatics
  • Language and cognition

Language variation/language dynamics investigates various aspects of linguistic variation. Regional languages studies analyses the dialects, substandard varieties and regional languages of German. The Language History research group investigates the historical development and diachronic change of the German language. The Linguistic Typology research group is interested in the diversity of the individual languages and their variations. Different languages are collected and compared with the help of computer-aided quantitative methods.

Communication and pragmatics researches the mechanisms of oral and written communication. The research group Text and Pragmatics takes a functional perspective and analyses the purpose for which texts are drafted as well as the linguistic means employed in this process. The guiding theme of the Speech Science research group is the comprehensive approach to phenomena of orality and vocality. One focus here is on rhetorical questions and aesthetic/speech artistic questions, and on whether and how oral communication can be taught. In its research, the German as a Foreign Language research group also deals with questions from communication studies. It covers a broad range of topics from multilingualism, intercultural pragmatics, language teaching research/language didactics and alphabetisation.

The objective of language and cognition is to base linguistic theories and models on solid cognitive scientific and neuroscientific research. Using modern experimental methods, the Neurolinguistics research group analyses the neuronal mechanisms when language is processed and produced. The findings of this research promise new insights into the nature of language and into how the human brain works. Research from cognitive scientific and neuroscientific phonetics complements the department’s neuroscientific orientation. The Clinical Linguistics research group deals with the various manifestations of language disorders. It focusses on describing in detail the symptoms and on the analysis of language processing in children and adults who display speech and language disorders. It is a major application-oriented aim to design, test and evaluate specific and effective diagnostic procedures and intervention methods. Research and clinical practice interlink in the outpatient clinic, KLing.

Work in these three major research areas of the IGS is characterised by the innovative and interdisciplinary application of empirical methods. These include electrophysiological examinations, perception linguistics experiments, language dynamic analyses and clinical studies. New research methods have been developed and tested in recent years. These novel windows of insight provide access to different details of the complex processing of human language and its effects. 


The Institute of German Linguistics comprises research groups many of whose researchers have co-appointments in the Deutscher Sprachatlas, a research center devoted to the study of the German language and its dialects.