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Welcome to the Institute of Linguistics! On this website you can find all the important information about the institute.

Summer schools Linguistics 2024

There are two relevant summer schools for students:

  1. DGfS Summer school on “Form Meaning Mismatches in Spoken and Visual Communication” in Göttingen (August 12-23, 2024):
    Participation fee: 50 € (Registration deadline: May 10, 2024!)
  2. Computer linguistics fall school 2024 (Python course, NLP, Argument Mining, Visual Analytics) in Passau (September 16-27, 2024):
    Participation fee: 100 € (with registration until Augst 31, 2024)

End of Seminars = Start of Term Papers

With the conclusion of the lecture period, the work on the term papers begins. We kindly request all students writing term papers or theses in linguistics to follow our guidelines.

We celebrate Katharina Hartmann’s 60th birthday

During the birthday workshop “Syntax in Focus – A workshop in honour of Katharina Hartmann’s 60th birthday” we presented the festschrift in honour of Katharina on January 12, 2024: “To the left, to the right, and much in between“. It can be downloaded for free as an e-book (PDF) here.

We congratulate the Institute of Linguistics on the newly approved special research area NegLaB

From April 2024, the new DFG special research area “Negation in Language and Beyond” (SFB 1629 NegLaB) will start at Goethe University. The Institute of Linguistics is significantly involved in numerous projects at the SFB.

MA student Farbod Eslami Khouzani receives this year’s DAAD Prize

The MA linguistics student Farbod Eslami Khouzani (picture, middle) received this year’s DAAD Prize for international students on October 5th, 2023. His outstanding academic achievements as well as his social commitment were recognized. We congratulate him! More information

Prof. Katharina Hartmann and Prof. Frank Kügler nominated for the best doctoral supervision

The Goethe Research Academy for Early Career Researchers (GRADE) awards a prize every year for the best doctoral supervision. This year, two of the professors from linguistics have been nominated: Prof. Frank Kügler and Prof. Katharina Hartmann. More information

Apply now for the BA Linguistics until August 31, 2023
You can find information and links under: Freshmen/Beginners

Information for students


The Department of Linguistics at Goethe University Frankfurt offers in collaboration with the Department of English and American Studies, the Department of Psycholinguistics and the Teaching of German, and the Department of Romance Literatures and Languages two linguistic programs, a BA Linguistik taught in German and an  MA Linguistics taught in English. In addition, the Department takes part in the BA Germanistik and in the Teacher Education Program.

Further information:


​Overview about the research at the institute


The Institute of Linguistics, which is based in the Faculty of  Modern Languages (FB 10), has special expertise in the fields of language structure (syntax and phonology), semantics and pragmatics, psycholinguistics (language acquisition, language processing), and historical linguistics, and represents known researchers. In addition, there are close contacts and cooperation with the linguists in the Institutes of English and Romance Studies, with philosophy (Faculty of Philosophy and History, FB 08), and the Institute for Empirical Linguistics (Faculty ofLinguistics and Cultural Studies, FB 09).

Besides the Institute of Linguistics, there is also research and teaching in linguistics in other institutes. More details can be found here:

The potential of the Frankfurt linguistics is especially in the realm of foundational research in linguistics. The active research is bundled in various projects.

Talks by Sebastian Walter (Frankfurt) and Lennart Fritzsche (Frankfurt) in the Semantics Colloquium

We are happy to announce talks by Sebastian Walter (Frankfurt) and Lennart Fritzsche (Frankfurt) in the Semantics Colloquium.

The talks will take place on campus in IG 4.301.
If you wish to participate virtually via Zoom, please contact Lennart Fritzsche for the link.

Date: June 6, 2024

Time: 4 pm – 6 pm ct 


Sebastian Walter (first half of the session)

Title: Viewpoint matters: Prototypical vs. non-prototypical co-speech gestures in the VP domain (joint work with Cornelia Ebert and Stefan Hinterwimmer)

In this talk, Ebert et al.’s (2020) theory of the semantic contribution of co-speech gestures is extended to the VP domain. We investigate the distinction between what we call prototypical and non-prototypical co-speech gestures in that domain.

Prototypical gestures in general resemble the prototypical concept they depict (in the case of (1), for example, waving with one hand). Non-prototypical gestures, by contrast, can be seen as modified alternatives of a prototypical gesture that are interpreted completely iconic (in (1), e.g., waving with both hands). Crucially, an instance of a non-prototypical gesture has to resemble the original event in a contextually relevant manner.

(1) Peter [waves at] Mary. + waving co-speech gesture

Drawing from Ebert et al. (2022) and Ebert & Hinterwimmer (2022), we propose a formalism where a prototypical gesture denotes an event type which is in large parts not interpreted iconically whereas non-prototypical gestures depend on a viewpoint variable and are interpreted iconically. Moreover, we spell out Ebert et al.’s (2020) similarity predicate SIM for the verbal domain. We argue that viewpoint is, in the verbal domain, one factor the similarity predicate can depend on.



Lennart Fritzsche (second half of the session)

Title: Modified pro-speech gestures as mixed items

Schlenker (2021) provides pioneering evidence that modifications of pro-speech gestures (i.e., gestures that replace speech) appear to be not-at-issue. Such modifications may involve changes in manner added to the ‘neutral’ gesture. For example in (1), this might include some indication of effort or difficulty involved in lifting, such as trembling hands or facial expressions, as shown in (2).

(1) This box, Nina had to LIFT.
(2) This box, Nina had to LIFT-difficult.
(LIFT denotes a pro-speech lifting gesture that mimics the event of lifting said box with both hands.)

If modifications of pro-speech gestures are indeed not-at-issue, then a modified pro-speech gesture should contribute information in two dimensions: the meaning provided by the neutral gesture in the at-issue dimension and the information provided by the modification in the not-at-issue dimension. In this talk, I present results from a rating study supporting this claim.

Talk by Janek Guerrini (Paris) in the Semantics Colloquium

We are happy to announce a talk by Janek Guerrini (Paris) in the Semantics Colloquium.

The talk will take place on campus in IG 4.301.
If you wish to participate virtually via Zoom, please contact Lennart Fritzsche for the link.

Date: May 2, 2024

Time: 4 pm – 6 pm ct

Title: Distributive kind predication

Germanic bare plurals and Romance definite plurals are thought to be kind-denoting, as they provide suitable arguments for predicates that hold of kinds (Carlson, 1977), as in e.g. ‘lions are extinct’. Kinds are standardly seen as intensional sums. In this work, I argue that, if we extend to kind-denoting plurals tools independently motivated by the treatment of referential plurals, a number of puzzles concerning the distribution of kind-denoting plurals, both old and novel, fall in line. 

Talk by Ur Shlonsky (University of Geneva) in the Syntax Colloquium

We are happy to announce a talk by Ur Shlonsky (University of Geneva) in the Syntax Colloquium.

The talks will take place in person. Room IG 4.301

Date: February 05, 2024

Time: 4 pm – 6 pm ct

Title: “Clause-internal focus – movement and locality: Evidence from some African and some non-African languages”


I present several arguments in favor of a clause-internal (“vP-peripheral”) FocusP and provide some examples of movement to its specifier. Focus°, I additionally argue, is selected by a head. I discuss the properties of this additional structure and its role in the syntactic computation.

Talks by Sebastian Walter (Frankfurt/Wuppertal) and Noémi Ecsedi (Frankfurt) in the Semantics Colloquium

We are happy to announce talks by Sebastian Walter (Frankfurt/Wuppertal) and Noémi Ecsedi (Frankfurt) in the Semantics Colloquium.

The talks will take place on campus in IG 4.301.
If you wish to participate virtually via Zoom, please contact Lennart Fritzsche for the link.

Date: February 1, 2024

Time: 4 pm – 6 pm ct


Sebastian Walter

Title: Indirect discourse as mixed quotation: Evidence from self pointing

Indirect discourse, e.g., Peter said he was thirsty, is standardly viewed as a statement of what someone said or thought without quoting them directly. However, there are instances of indexicals which can receive a shifted interpretation in indirect discourse (Plank, 1986; Anderson, 2019), meaning that they are interpreted from the matrix subject’s perspective. This suggests that at least some elements in indirect discourse can be quoted.

In a rating study, self pointing gestures aligned with a focalized third-person pronoun in indirect discourse were judged acceptable, cf. (1).

(1) Peter complained that [HE] again had to pay the bill for the whole group. + self pointing

Assuming that quotation involves a demonstration that can target elements beside words (Clark & Gerrig, 1990), Ebert & Hinterwimmer (2022) propose that self pointing aligned with a third-person pronoun is a character viewpoint gesture quoted from the protagonist (cf. Maier, 2015, for a mixed quotational approach to free indirect discourse).

Based on the results of the study presented in this talk, it is proposed that mixed quotation is available in indirect discourse as well. However, it is more constrained than in other instances of reported speech, meaning that only some elements of the original utterance can be quoted.


Noémi Ecsedi

Title: Metaphor and Expressive Meaning

Such expressions that convey personal feelings, sensations, evaluations, and one’s own stance are referred to as “expressives”, cf. (1) (Löbner, 2003). Expressives, whether they possess positive or negative connotations, play an integral role in communication.

(1) Oops / damn / darling.

Metaphors, like expressives, are part of natural language too, cf. (2). They are produced and understood by speakers. The insights from intensive metaphor research, characteristic of the second half of the twentieth century, led to the understanding that metaphors are no longer merely seen as rhetorical devices in literary texts, as was the case in ancient times. Instead, they are viewed as a linguistic phenomenon ubiquitous in everyday language (Reimer & Camp, 2008).

(2) Juliet is the sun.

The topic of this talk is metaphor and expressive meaning. It aims to investigate whether the characteristics used to identify expressive meaning can demonstrate the expressive function of metaphorical expressions, cf. (3).

(3) Sam is a pig.

Two talks by Kwaku Sasu (GU) / Ateş İsmail Çalışır (GU) in the Syntax Colloquium

We are happy to announce two talks by Kwaku Sasu (GU) and by Ateş İsmail Çalışır (GU) in the Syntax Colloquium.

The talks will take place in person. Room IG 4.301

Date: January 29, 2024

Time: 4 pm – 6 pm ct

Kwaku Sasu:
Title: “Negation in Anufo”


The talk looks at Negation in Anufo, A Niger-Congo language spoken in Northen Ghana. A general overview of negation patterns in the language and other aspects of negation in the language will be discussed.

Ateş İsmail Çalışır:
Title: “Biased Polar Questions in Turkish”


Biased Polar Questions are a cross-linguistically observed phenomena, closely related to High and Low negation in polar questions. In this talk, I will try to argue for a biased polar question analysis in Turkish and potential consequences and evidences regarding their syntactic and contextual status.