News Archive

Fall school in documentary linguistics
From October 10 to 17, the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme, SOAS London, in collaboration with the ZAS, organize a training course for experts in small languages from the Middle East and North Africa - for 24 trainees from Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Georgia, Armenia, Yemen and Morocco. The Fall School will conclude with a conference on Iranian languages (“Language Islands and Language Contact in Iran

New Open Access proceedings volumes published
After a successful conference in September 2017, the Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 22 are now available as an open access publication. The two volumes with 58 papers represent the current state of the art in research in formal semantics. They are volumes 60 and 61 of the ZAS Papers in Linguistics.
The full volumes and individual papers are available for free download from the Semanticsarchive. In addition, both Volume 1 and Volume 2 can be purchased at production cost via a print-on-demand publisher from booksellers in most countries.

Full Public Release of the ZAS Database of Clause-Embedding Predicates

The database was originally conceived and designed by Barbara Stiebels and built up over several years by a team of researchers and student assistants. Since 2014 ZAS has been preparing a publicly accessible version in collaboration with Peter Meyer and Carolin Müller-Spitzer at the Institut für Deutsche Sprache (IDS) in Mannheim, using their OWID-plus platform for lexical and lexicographic resources and a purpose-built, extremely powerful and intuitive search interface, developed by Peter Meyer. Release 1.0 of the contemporary German portion of the database is now publicly accessible online at the following URL:
Read more

New published in April 2018 as an online edition:

ZAS Papers in Linguistics 59 (ZASPiL)

Meinunger, André (ed.). 2018. Im Mittelpunkt Deutsch. (ZAS Papers in Linguistics 59). Berlin: ZAS.

48. Salon der Sprachen
Wednesday, 18th April 2018, 7pm
Library of the Leibniz-Centre General Linguistics (ZAS) Schützenstr. 18, entrance B, 2. floor, 10117 Berlin

Dr. André Meinunger: "Sie Vollpfosten! Anziehendes und Abstoßendes beim Schimpfen"

Sinn und Bedeutung 22
Universität Potsdam Campus Griebnitzsee / Leibniz-ZAS Berlin
7-10 September, 2017

Sinn und Bedeutung – which takes its name from Gottlob Frege’s seminal paper Über Sinn und Bedeutung (‘On sense and reference’) – is Europe’s largest and most influential yearly conference in semantics and pragmatics.  It seeks to represent the full breadth of current research on natural language meaning, spanning formal semantics and pragmatics, the syntax-semantics interface, psycholinguistic studies related to meaning, and the philosophy of language.
The 22nd Sinn und Bedeutung takes place across the two cities of Berlin and Potsdam, jointly organized by the ZAS and the University of Potsdam.  It features in addition to the main conference a special session ‘Semantics and Natural Logic’ and a satellite workshop ‘Microvariation in Semantics’.

Database of clause-embedding predicates released as Public Beta
The ZAS Database of Clause-embedding Predicates documents the clausal complementation patterns of a series of lexical predicates in several languages. It is built around a curated collection of corpus examples which illustrate different types of embedding for each predicate and are annotated for a number of grammatical properties. This makes it possible to run powerful queries on the database to obtain examples or predicates that meet different criteria. The contemporary German portion, along with a custom-built search interface, has now been released as a public beta on the OWIDplus platform, in cooperation with the Institut für Deutsche Sprache. This release contains over 1,700 clause-embedding predicates and nearly 17,000 corpus examples. Future releases will expand coverage to include additional languages and historical stages of German.

Alexander von Humboldt Foundation: Alumni grant
Winfried Lechner, associate professor at the National and Kapodistrias University of Athens, is working at ZAS  from 15th March until the end of June with an Alumni grant from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. He has worked on many topics at the syntax-semantics interface.
Especially well-known is his book on comparative ellipsis, but he also worked on reconstruction, scope, binding, focus particles and other topics.

ZAS pages March 2017
In our current newsletter, Manfred Krifka writes about lies from the perspective of linguists and philosophers. Manfred Bierwisch gives an interview about the origins of the ZAS, his research themes and the current political situation, and we present the new book "Sie Vollpfosten!" by André Meinunger on swear words. As always on the last page you will find our new publications, upcoming talks and events.


Special Issue of Phonetica 73
Marzena Zygis and Zofia Malisz are quest editors of a high profile journal Phonetica. Their "Slavic Perspectives on Prosody" is a double-issue volume which explores a plethora of issues that are currently considered crucial in solving critical problems in the field of prosody. The papers are gathered into two sub-topics: "Slavic Prosody" which focuses on purely prosodic phenomena, i.e., timing, acoustic correlates of prominence, rhythm and intonation and "Interfaces in Slavic Prosody" in which the explanations are based on links to other linguistic areas such as information structure, syntax and pragmatics.
All studies presented in this volume use up-to-date and established descriptive methodologies as well as theoretical frameworks enabling not only the comparison of results on Slavic with other languages but also the extension and revision of existing models and theories. In presenting this collection of studies the editors believe to provide a platform on which some of the current, high quality phonetic research on Slavic prosody is shown and a valuable reference for future investigations is provided.

Leibniz-DAAD Research Fellowships
Are you a postdoc with an excellent track record? Would you like to spend a year living in Germany and conducting research at a Leibniz institute? Then apply for a Leibniz-DAAD Research Fellowship! During your research stay you will obtain broad-ranging insights into the German research scene, pursue your research in collaboration with renowned academics from around the world and receive extensive supervision. The fellowships are awarded by the Leibniz Association and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

DAAD Grant-Holder at ZAS
Dr. Anton Stepikhov from St. Petersburg State University is a grant-holder from DAAD and will stay at ZAS from 15th September to 15th December 2016. His research project investigates the process of expert manual annotation of unscripted speech and aims to explore the effect of annotator’s personality on speech segmentation.


New publication
This volume, which has been edited by the ZAS researches Werner Frey, André Meinunger and Kerstin Schwabe and just been published by John Benjamins, deals with sentential proforms and their relationship to their associated clauses. By providing syntactic, prosodic, semantic, psycholinguistic and corpus-based support, the book underpins the claim that there exist different sentential proform types in German and Dutch, that these proform types correlate with different verb classes, and that their associated related clauses are located in different syntactic positions.

Alexander von Humboldt-Fellowship
Luis López, professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is spending three months at ZAS as a guest researcher, with the generous financial help of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. He is working with Dr. Tonjes Veenstra on a project at the interface between code-switching, creoles and linguistic theory.

New Network "COBRA"
Conversational Brains (Cobra) is a network consisting of 15 member hailing from nine countries, one of them is ZAS, as well as one Company (Carstens Medienelektronik). The network combines the most recent integrative approaches in the fields of language, social interaction, cognition and the human brain. COBRA aims to examine spoken language within a conversational context as well as to determine which cognitive and cerebral processes underlie social interaction. COBRA has received funding from the ANR in France for one year, beginning in April, 2016. The network is meant to aid in the preparation of a proposal for funding for a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network within the EU.

A new research project "A Typology of Gender"
A new research project "A formal Typology of Gender" by Dr. Olga Steriopolo has started at ZAS on April 1, 2016. The main objective of this three-year project sponsored by the DFG is to develop a formal typology of gender in the framework of Distributed Morphology. The typology will show how gender is structurally assigned in different languages, as well as within a single language.
The anticipated results will be of interest to language educators, language-area specialists, language typologists, and theoretical linguists. The findings will be also relevant to the fields of Education and Endangered Aboriginal Language Documentation, Maintenance, and Revitalization, as some languages investigated here are endangered and on the verge of extinction (e.g., Manambu, Mian, Nuuchahnulth).

New project promotes scientific exchange
The German Academic Exchange Service DAAD and the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science JSPS decided to fund the project "XPrag Dojo" from 2016 on. The project creates new links between German and Japanese researchers in experimental pragmatics. Dr. Sauerland and Dr. Yatsushiro of the ZAS are senior scientist of the project. Early stage researchers who want to be involved in project can currently apply here on Linguist List.

New Vice director of ZAS
With the beginning of the new year, Prof. Dr. Artemis Alexiadou, who has been appointed as a professor at the Institute of  English and American Studies at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in October 2015, takes on an additional position as vice director of the ZAS, besides Dr. Werner Frey. Prof. Alexiadou has close ties to ZAS: her Ph.D. was partly funded by grants from the predecessor organization of the ZAS, and, as a member of the staff, she was at ZAS from 1995 to 2000 (with interruptions). After a Heisenberg fellowship, which led her among other places to MIT and Princeton University, she accepted a position at the University of Stuttgart as professor for English and General linguistics in 2002. There, she served as director of the collaborative research centre (Sonderforschungsbereich 732 'Incremental Specification in Context' from 2006 to 2015. In 2014, she  was awarded the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize by the German Research Foundation and was elected member of the Leopoldina, the National Academy of Sciences. In March 2016, she will be awarded a honorary doctorate by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim. Prof. Alexiadou’s research lies in the areas of syntax and morphology, and the interface between syntax and morphology. She is also interested in lexical semantics, historical syntax, language breakdown and development, and heritage languages.  Prof. Alexiadou will support ZAS primarily in the planning of research projects.

ZAS-Seiten Nr. 9, November 2015

Unser Newsletter mit einem Artikel von Manfred Krifka zur Sprachbildung für Flüchtlingskinder und einem Bericht über die Technik im neuen Motion Capture-Labor des ZAS. Andrea Schalley von der Griffith University in Brisbane ist für ein Jahr zu Gast am ZAS und erzählt, was sie mit Berlin verbindet. Außerdem gibt es unsere Rubrik mit neuen Publikationen, kommenden Vorträge und Konferenzen. Junior Fellowship awarded
Dr. Salvatore Pistoia Reda joined the project "SSI" as " Junior Fellow" from October 2015 to September 2016 in the Start-up Funding program. This program supports outstanding recent Ph.D. graduates to prepare her/his own research proposal for the second funding period of The principal investigator of the hosting project acts as supervisor. Salvatores project idea deals with the interaction between implicature and presupposition.

Guest researcher from Israel at ZAS
Funded by the German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (GIF), Luka Črnic, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, works as Visiting Scholar at ZAS from 14/09/2015 to 05/10/2015.

Visiting Scholar from Australia
Dr. Andrea Schalley (Griffith University, Australia) will be based as Visiting Scholar at the ZAS for almost one year. Her research interests lie in both theoretical linguistics - in particular in semantics - and in applied linguistics, in the area of bi/multilingualism. She is looking forward to a fruitful collaboration with ZAS researchers from both fields.

Guest at ZAS
Timothy J. O’Donnell is a research scientist at MIT and a Junior Fellow at TU Dresden during the winter semester 2015/16. During his stay in Germany Dr. O’Donnell will also collaborate with the semantics-pragmatics group (FB IV) at ZAS on Bayesian methods in pragmatics. In his research he develops mathematical models of language acquisition and of the generalization of linguistic rules to create new words and sentences. He draws on experimental methods from psychology, and on formal techniques from natural language processing, artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as on theoretical approaches from linguistics.

ZAS-Seiten Nr. 8, Juli 2015

Unser Newsletter zur Rolle der Forschung am ZAS bei drängenden Problemen unserer Gesellschaft, einem Interview mit der Harvard-Professorin Jesse Snedeker über ihren Forschungsaufenthalt am ZAS und das leckere Eis in Berlin, sowie einem Bericht über die gut besuchte Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften am 13. Juni.

Zweiter BIVEM-Infoflyer für Eltern und pädagogische Fachkräfte
Unter dem Titel So geht Mehrsprachigkeit: Vorurteile überwinden & Vorteile nutzen ist der zweite Info-Flyer aus der Reihe „Wissenschaft für‘s Leben: Fakten - Studien - Informationen für Eltern und pädagogische Fachkräfte“ erschienen.
Welche Vorurteile müssen endlich überwunden werden? Wie können Eltern und ihre Kinder die Vorteile von Mehrsprachigkeit am besten nutzen? Diese Fragen beantwortet das vom Berliner Interdisziplinären Verbund für Mehrsprachigkeit (BIVEM) herausgegebene Faltblatt, das bislang auf Deutsch und auf Türkisch erschienen ist. Es kann als PDF-Deutsch / PDF-Türkisch heruntergeladen oder in größeren Mengen als Druckversion hier bestellt werden.

ZAS-Seiten Nr. 7, April 2015

Unser Newsletter mit dem ZAS-Programm der Langen Nacht der Wissenschaften am 13. Juni (17:00-24:00 Uhr) in den Räumen der Humboldt-Universität, einem Interview mit dem Norweger Torgrim Solstad über das Leben in Deutschland mit Kindern und seine Forschung zur satzeinbettenden Verben, sowie einem Bericht der Norwegerin Siri Gjersøe über ihre Forschung zu der Bantusprache Kikuyu.

New blood in the Annual Reviews
journal series has been around for over 80 years, but its recent offshoot has been published first time in January 2015: the Annual Reviews of Linguistics. In this edition appeared the contribution of Dr. Stephanie Solt - Vagueness and imprecision: Empirical Foundations. Prof. Dr. Judith Tonhauser, currently working as a Humboldt-fellow at ZAS, has published the article Cross-Linguistic Temporal Reference. The first edition of the Annual Reviews of Linguistics is available online for free till January 2016.

ZAS-Seiten Nr. 6, Januar 2015

Our newsletter with an editorial of director Manfred Krifka regarding plans of possible transition of ZAS into the Leibniz Association and with an article of Marzena Żygis in relation to her research about national identity of German-Polish children and young people in Berlin. Additionally, Susanne Fuchs writes concerning the role of breathing in speaking and listening and we look back on the successful network meeting about "Multilingualism" in November.

SIAS Summer institute 2015/2016

Investigation of Linguistic Meaning: In the Armchair, in the Field, and in the Lab
The Summer Institute wants to attract junior postdoctoral researchers (PhD 2009 or later) from one of three fields:

  • Theoretical Linguistics, especially Semantics and its interfaces with Pragmatics, Syntax, and Phonology,
  • Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience, and
  • Linguistic and Anthropological Fieldwork.

One goal of the Summer Institute will be interdisciplinary team building, resulting in joint publications at the end of the project. A second goal will be capacity building, especially the acquisition of methods in the neighboring fields. More information here.

ZAS-Seiten Nr. 5, Oktober 2014

Unser Newsletter mit Hintergrundinformationen zur Laufzeit-Verlängerung des Berliner Interdisziplinären Verbunds für Mehrsprachigkeit (BIVEM), einem Interview mit unserem Doktoranden Tim Hirschberg über Satzeinschübe, einem Rückblick auf das Auftakttreffen des DFG-Schwerpunktprogramms und weiteren Meldungen aus den Projekten.


New ANR/DFG project granted

The ANR/DFG project BULB (2015-2018) aims at supporting the documentation of unwritten languages with the help of automatic speech recognition and machine translation technologies. Three mostly unwritten Bantu languages will be at the heart of this project: Basaa, Myene and Embosi. The project relies on a strong German-French cooperation between linguists and computer scientists. The institutions involved together with ZAS (F. Hamlaoui) are the KIT (S. Stücker) and the University of Stuttgart (S. Zerbian) on the German side, as well as the LPP (M. Adda-Decker), the LLACAN (M. van de Velde), the LIMSI (L. Lamel and F. Yvon), the LIG (L. Besacier) and the IMMI-CNRS (G. Adda) on the French side.

ZAS-Seiten Nr. 4, July 2014

Our newsletter in German and English featuring a text by Susanne Fuchs about 'Schreiknötchen zur Fußball-WM', an interview with our Humboldt fellow John Tomlinson about his research and reviews of the ZAS events "Treffpunkt Sprache" and "Semantics and Philosophy 7".


ZAS-Seiten Nr. 3, April 2014

Our newsletter in German with the programme of the Long Night of the Sciences on the 10th of May, a review of the ZAS event 'Das mehrsprachige Klassenzimmer: Wie viel Deutsch braucht ein Berliner Schulkind?' and more news from other ZAS projects.

ZAS-Seiten Nr. 2, January 2014

Our newsletter in German with informations about the second funding period by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung /BMBF), with details about the ZAS event 'Das mehrsprachige Klassenzimmer: Wie viel Deutsch braucht ein Berliner Schulkind?' on 26th March 2014 in Berlin, with a fieldwork report from Ecuador and more news from other ZAS projects.


"ZAS is one of the top research addresses for linguistics worldwide", says Dr. Seunghun Lee in the Journal of the VolkswagenStiftung about his year of research at the Berlin Center for General Linguistics.
The new 'ZAS-Seiten': Our Newsletter Nr. 1 (in German)

Problems of understanding

Study of perceptions of the extent to which guideline recommendations are binding—a survey of commonly used terminology is the title of a new paper by Uli Sauerland and doctors of the Berliner Charité, published in ‘Deutsches Ärzteblatt’.
More Information about the study here.


Jonathan D. Bobaljik received Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award
Professor Bobaljik from the University of Connecticut at Storrs, USA is a leading authority in morphology and related areas of linguistics. His forthcoming book "Universals in Comparative Morphology: Suppletion, superlatives, and the structure of words" , in press with MIT Press, argues that superlatives like "best" and "nicest" in all languages are derived from comparatives such as "better" and "nicer", rather than directly from the positive forms like "good" and "nice". With the Bessel Award by the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung, Bobaljik will work with Dr. Uli Sauerland of the Center for General Linguistics in Berlin on a statistical approach to syncretism patterns in language.

Research trips in the South Pacific
The project Languages of Southwest Ambrym, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation, carried out several research trips to the island in the South Pacific, a part of the State of Vanuatu. The project made numerous recordings of the languages Daakaka and Daakie, which are now being further analyzed. Under cooperation with Chief Filip Talevu from Emiotungan, the project now has a house which is also open to other researchers and guests, and which will document the culture and languages of West Ambrym.