Academic advisor:

Prof. Dr. Esther Ruigendijk

+49 (0)441 798-4695

Advising on area of specialisation/

Study coordinator Faculty III:

Nicole Griese

+49 (0)441 798-2300



Completed dissertation research projects

Completed dissertation research projects

Dutch Studies

Children's use of Morphosyntactic cues in German

Atty Schouwenaars

This research investigates whether children make use of grammatical information (such as case-marking and verb-inflection) in their comprehension and production of syntactically complex wh-questions. We look into first language acquisition of two groups of children: normal hearing children and of children with a cochlear implant. In order to better see what’s happening during the parsing of these types of sentences, eye-tracking is used.

The processing of pronouns in a second language

Hendrikje Ziemann

Theoretical linguistics has shown that pronouns can be interpreted in different ways. Reflexive pronouns can be processed by syntactic operations, which is not possible for personal pronouns. For these, other more elaborate operations are used.

Studies that have investigated the comprehension and processing of pronouns in the native language have been able to demonstrate this dissociation in processing. The goal of this project is to investigate whether there are processing differences between reflexive and personal pronouns in the second language. As research on processing in second language acquisition has shown, second language learners have difficulties using syntax for processing. They must resort to other operations that may be less efficient but produce the same result.

This study thus provides insights into which operations are used and how second language acquisition differs from first language acquisition.

Effects of time-expanded speech on processing and comprehension of syntactically complex sentences in aphasia and hearing impairment

Angela Jochmann

English and American Studies

Politeness in computer-mediated business communication: a contrastive study of English and Spanish email directives

Vera Freytag

This Ph.D. project examines a corpus of 300 English and 300 Spanish emails collected at a multilingual workplace in view of directive speech events. The strategies employed are analyzed quantitatively and in a second step evaluated by the email writers in terms of directness and politeness. Ethnographic methods (participant observation and interviews) enable an analysis of the influence of contextual variables such as relative power, social distance, degree of imposition and gender on the choice of a particular strategy over another one.

Suggestions in English: A Contrastive Multimethod Analysis

Subject Realization in Bulgarian, Overt and Null Subjects in Bulgarian-German Interlanguage

Dobrinka Genevska-Hanke


German Studies

Punctuation marks in surface syntax using the semicolon as an example

Niklas Schreiber

The work examines punctuation marks of German from a syntactic perspective. The focus is on the comma, colon, and especially the semicolon. These are examined with the help of the surface-syntactic description apparatus and thus their syntactic function is recorded more precisely. The focus is on the question of what information the signs make available to the reader.

Question intonation in German - On the intonational marking of interrogativity and questionness (Fragehaltigkeit)

Jan Michalsky

The dissertation project investigates the tonal structure and phonetic realization of the intonation of questions in German. It will be shown that a sentence mode-specific contour choice does not exist in German and that the primary indicator for a question interpretation can be found in a signaling of 'questionness' via the level of phonetic scaling.

Acoustic properties of the vowels of Saterland Frisian and its contact language (working title)

Heike Schoormann

The aim of the work is an acoustic-phonetic study of the vowel systems of the three West Germanic languages spoken in Saterland, with emphasis on Saterland Frisian and its variation.

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