Banner Shadow


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.

Talk by Nadine Bade (Potsdam) in the Semantics Colloquium

We are happy to announce a talk by Nadine Bade (Potsdam) 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: July 11, 2024

Time: 4 pm – 6 pm c.t.

Title: Shared mechanisms behind matrix and embedded implicatures — evidence from priming

There is an ongoing debate in the literature on implicatures regarding what mechanisms are behind their derivation. Specifically, theories make different predictions for the role of different types of alternatives in implicature computation. More recently, this question has been tackled in the experimental literature by making use of a priming paradigm (Chemla & Bott, 2016, Rees & Bott 2018, Waldon & Degen 2021, Marty et al. 2024). I will offer an extension of the existing priming paradigm which includes embedded (downward-entailing) cases as well as cases highlighting the alternative visually (or not). The results suggest that both influence the rate to which implicatures are derived. I will discuss the theoretical consequences of these results.

Talk by Carla Spellerberg (Amherst) and Carolin Reinert (Frankfurt) in the Semantics Colloquium

We are happy to announce a talk by Carla Spellerberg (Amherst) and Carolin Reinert (Frankfurt) 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: July 4, 2024

Time: 4 pm – 6 pm ct

Title: Nouns and their typical activities

In this talk, we present parts of our ongoing joint work on the semantics and processing of English adjective noun constructions such as the following:

a. Mary is a skillful dancer.
b. Mary is a skillful ballerina.
c. Mary is a skillful person.
d. Mary is a skillful beginner.

We assume that adjectives like skillful are underspecified, and capture this by means of a parameter in the semantics of these adjectives. Moreover, we assume that value of this parameter is supplied as a default by world knowledge associated with certain nouns, or is supplied by the context of utterance. We are interested in the (in)ability of nouns to provide a default interpretation: while (1a) and (1b) could be paraphrased as Mary is skillful as a dancer/ballerina, (1c) and (1d) cannot be paraphrased as Mary is skillful as a person/beginner.

In our talk, we discuss preliminary results of the first norming study in our experimental series, which compares non-deverbal nouns that have an event argument (such as ballerina) and non-deverbal nouns that do not have an event argument (such as person). In this pilot study, we presented speakers of American English (n=40) with stimuli containing an adjective-noun construction consisting of a skillful-type adjective and a noun of one of the two noun classes, and asked them to supply the respective skill (e.g. Mary is a skillful ballerina/person – What is Mary skillful at? ). The results of this study point towards the fact that English speakers are sensitive to the noun type that a skillful -type adjective combines with. We connect this to broader psychological concepts capturing how humans identify and categorize entities belonging to different kinds (Prasada & Dillingham 2006), and argue that skillful -type adjectives are sensitive to so-called k-properties associated with nouns, which we assume are represented linguistically (by means of the event argument). Finally, we would also like to discuss our next steps: we are planning to test the real-time processing of these adjective-noun combinations in a maze task (Forster et al. 2009), and we are also planning to test the interpretation of these adjective noun constructions in context.

Talk by Emil Eva Rosina (Bochum) in the Semantics Colloquium

We are happy to announce a talk by Emil Eva Rosina (Bochum) 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: June 27, 2024

Time: 4 pm – 6 pm ct

Title: Pragmatics in experiments on remembering as a gate to epistemology

In this talk, I present for the first time in a talk format the results of six experiments on memory reports and discuss the results with regard to Kristina Liefke’s and my semantics of German ‘noch wissen, dass/wie’ (lit. ‘still know that/how’). Our semantics predicts that “remembering how” requires better evidence than “remembering that”. My experimental data suggests an even broader phenomenon of experientiality in memory reports, confirming also the unacceptability of ‘Blue remembers Grandma swimming in the sea’ when Blue did not personally experience the swimming. For the case of ‘dass’/’that’ complements in the same situation (so concerning the question whether indirect experiencers remember at all), the results depend heavily on the study format. Our semantics predicts acceptability, possibly blurred by pragmatic competition. I suggest that different kinds of pragmatic effects interact differently depending on the study format, and that this poses a circularity challenge for experimental methodology.
The second lesson from the investigation of my experiments as support for our semantics is that a specific opposing claim is hard or impossible to falsify: Our semantics predicts that experientiality (i.e. the requirement that one must have directly experienced an event in order to “remember how”) is only a pragmatic inference from what we consider good evidence. Alternatively, experientiality can be written directly into the semantics. However, experience and evidence are in practice so connected that examples that would show cancellability involve counterfactual human cognition. I put forth an internalist interpretation of our semantics that predicts that biases about other people’s reliability intervene between truth-conditions and experimental results.

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.