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:
- dimensions of meaning and multimodality
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 Presupposition. 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.
Another approach to learn more about the different dimensions of meaning within language is to take them into account as 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 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.
- 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.
Private Life & Outreach
09/2018: 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 04/2019||Professor for Linguistics/Semantics at Goethe-University, Frankfurt|
|08/2017-03/2018||Researcher at Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, Berlin|
|08/2010-07/2017||Researcher and lecturer at the Linguistics Department of the University of Stuttgart/German Studies, English Studies
|03/2007-09/2009||Researcher and lecturer at the Cognitive Science Department of the University of Osnabrück
|07/2003-02/2007||Researcher 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 at the Department of Linguistics/Computational Linguistics of the University of Potsdam|
|2007||Dr. phil. in Linguistics, University of Potsdam
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
Thesis The double scope of quantifier phrases
Supervisor: Peter Staudacher