I am a formal semanticist with a strong interest in theory building. With my background as a computational linguist, I use corpora as well as experimental methods to build and evaluate my theories. My main topics of interest are:
- information structure, topicality in particular
My dissertation thesis is concerned with topicality and the phenomenon of exceptional wide scope. I show that certain quantifiers can be topical and, when they are, they receive (possibly exceptional) wide scope.
With Christian Ebert and Stefan Hinterwimmer, I have recently suggested a new analysis of conditionals as topics, where we bring out similarities of two types of conditionals and two types of left dislocation constructions.
- quantification, indefiniteness, and specificity
My work on exceptional wide scope furthered my interest in indefiniteness and, in particular, "funny indefinites", indefinites with very particular and extraordinary behaviour. Based on a workshop we organized on this topic, I co-edited a volume on different kinds of specificity across languages.
In a very recent submission to The Companion to Semantics (edited by Lisa Matthewson, Cécile Meier, Hotze Rullmann, and Thomas Ede Zimmermann), I summarize the research on exceptional wide scope indefinites.
- dimensions of meaning
For quite a while now, I have been working on multidimensional aspects of language, i.e. the at-issue/not-at-issue division of conveyed information and phenomena around presupposed, implicated, and otherwise backgrounded material. We suggest an analysis for DPs with "doubled" definite determiners (der und der) in German, that makes use of presupposition theories and the principle of Maximize Prsupposition. In another article, we account for the differing judgements for sentences containing non-referring DPs, based on the interplay of presupposition failure and topicality. To capture the empirical differences between German (ein) gewiss- and (ein) bestimmt-, we make crucial use of the division into at-issue and non-at-issue material and propose different divisions of similar semantic material for the two determiners.
One primary concern of my current work is to learn more about the different dimensions of meaning within language by taking into account also multimodal phenomena. In collaboration with Christian Ebert, I developed a formal semantic framework for the handling of co-speech gestures. Based on this formal system, we propose that various well-known observations concerning demonstratives and the attributive/referential distinction can be given a unified explanation if one takes the accompanying gesture to make systematic semantic contributions. This is work in progress, but there is a handout of a talk at the SPE7 in Berlin, 2014 available.
- iconicity in language
I am furthermore interested in the iconic contributions of gestures and iconic means in language in general. Together with Manfred Krifka and Susanne Fuchs, I am one of the PIs of the project PSIMS (08/2017-07/2020) within the XPRAG.de Priority Programme, where we want to find out more about iconicity and its significance for language and linguistics.
In collaboration with Susan Goldin-Meadow and Heather Mangelsdorf, we work on gestures that match or do not match with speech. By annotating and analysing video materials of children who explain how they solve a given mathematical problem, in this project we hope to learn more about the linguistic reflexes, e.g. in the temporal alignment with speech, of gestures that clearly enrich or even contradict what is conveyed within speech.
In a commentary to a Theoretical Linguistics article by Philippe Schlenker, I compare some grammaticalized iconic features of sign language with gestural means in spoken language enriched by gesture. In recent work, we investigate the iconic effects of letter replication in a blogger corpus.
Private Life & Outreach
09/2018 (scheduled): Talk at Immanuel-Kant-Gymnasium Berlin Lichtenberg, Langer Nachmittag der Wissenschaften, Wie man mit Gesten Sprachen lernt.
01/2018: Talk for Rotary Club, Leonberg-Weil der Stadt Reden ist Silber, Zeigen ist Gold -- wie Gesten uns beim Sprechen helfen.
I am mother of three children: Silas (*07/2009), Famke (*01/2012) and Clara (*01/2016).
I am founder and president of durcheinander e.V., a non-profit association for the inclusion of (mentally) disabled people.
In 2002, I went on a horse riding tour through France and Spain for four months.
Short CVfull cv (German)
|since 08/2017||Researcher (50%) at Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, Berlin|
|08/2010-07/2017||Researcher and lecturer at the Linguistics Department of the University of Stuttgart
50% Linguistics/German Studies until 09/2014; 10/2014 - 07/2017 additional 50% Linguistics/English Studies
|03/2007-09/2009||Researcher and lecturer at the Cognitive Science Department of the University of Osnabrück
|07/2003-02/2007||Part time research assistent in project A2 Quantification and information structure of SFB 632 Information structure. The linguistic means for structuring utterances, sentences and texts, University of Potsdam|
|04/2001-03/2002||Researcher and lecturer (50%) at the Department of Linguistics/Computational Linguistics of the University of Potsdam|
|2007||Dr. phil. in Linguistics, University of Potsdam ('summa cum laude')
Thesis Quantificational topics. A scopal treatment of exceptional wide scope phenomena
Supervisors: Peter Staudacher, Manfred Krifka, Ede Zimmermann
|2001||Diplom in Computational Linguistics, University of Potsdam ('mit Auszeichnung', with distinction)
Thesis The double scope of quantifier phrases
Supervisor: Peter Staudacher