Learnability of Human Language with a special focus on theoretical syntax; comparative syntax (e.g., Kwa vs. Germanic/Romance, Kwa vs. Sinitic, Kwa vs. Caribbean creoles); discourse-syntax interface; language creation and language change.
Sign language typology is a young research field with two related goals. First, sign languages (SLs) are compared to spoken languages with respect to certain grammatical features to scrutinize which typological distinctions are valid across modalities and to determine whether theoretical accounts that are based on spoken language data can be applied to SLs. Second, SLs are compared to each other to further investigate whether they differ along similar lines as spoken languages do. In this project, both types of typological comparison are applied to the area of argument structure (AS).
Languages differ with respect to which functional categories they overtly realize. Whereas some overtly realize case, others overtly realize the initiation node in the verb phrase (also known as “little v”). This project aims at investigating which functional categories are overtly realized in so-called “analytic” languages and to find out whether they form a natural class. To this end we will study two language groups, which are both supposedly analytic, but which are geographically and genetically wide apart from one another, Sinitic (East Asia) and Kwa (West Africa). The results will be relevant for general theorizing on (i) language types; (ii) the nature of functional categories; (iii) the distribution of functional categories; and (iv) the question whether the verbal and nominal domains are as parallel in structure as is often assumed.
The aim of this project is to investigate the nature of the interface between discourse pragmatics and syntax. In other words, we propose to study how focus and topic interact with clause structure and how syntactic rules driving clause structure and discourse/pragmatic properties interact. Using descriptive tools from the generative framework, the innovative contribution of this research is to analyze syntactic properties in relation to their discourse function in order to shed more light on the discourse-syntax interface and, therefore, provide a better characterization of how information structure may affect syntax
The ALS is unique in Africa in terms of its objectives and teaching methodology. The aim of the ALS is to expose African students to new advances in Linguistics and help them conduct further research on African languages thus contributing to the world knowledge of human language. The languages of Africa have long been a source of important theoretical and empirical discoveries across linguistics. However, the insights to be gained about language from the investigation of African languages have been limited by the comparatively small number of African scholars who are participating in the formulation of linguistic theory and language description. To remedy to this situation, the ALS brings together about 80 students, the majority of whom come from within the continent of Africa, and about 18 prominent international scholars who teach pro bono for two weeks. The school takes place every two years in a different African country. In terms of organization, the school takes care of food, transportation, and accommodation for all participants such that no student admitted could miss the school due to local financial restrictions. This way, the school seeks to bolster the field of linguistics in Africa by supporting existing programs on the continent and by allowing collaborative and multidisciplinary work between students of different countries as well as between students and faculty from international Universities.
Check the following link for more information: http://sites.google.com/site/africanlingschool/