Prof. Dr. Susanne Winkler

English Linguistics

Deputy Spokesperson of the Graduate Programme

Contact Details


Wilhelmstraße 50

72074 Tübingen

Tel.: +49 7071 297 5451


About Ambiguity

Ambiguity is central to almost all core linguistic investigations, both empirically and theoretically. Susanne Winkler has been working on topics of referential ambiguity, as in “John told Bill that he got an A,” prosodic ambiguity as in ”Gerda kennt nur einen ROMAN von Goethe” vs. ”Gerda kennt nur einen Roman vonGoethe” (Gerda knows only a novel by Goethe) (cf. Jacobs 1991), elliptical ambiguities as in “A: Ich liebe dich.(I love you) B: Ich dich AUCH. (I love you, too),” where it remains open whether B only loves A or possibly also others and on the interdisciplinary topic of linguistic ambiguity in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. The challenging question targets the paradox of ambiguity that has been formulated by Clark & Clark (1977: 80) in the following way: “Although most sentences are technically speaking ambiguous, practically speaking they are unambigous. This paradox needs explaining.” Despite comprehensive linguistic and psycholinguistic research the explanation of the paradox is far from being solved. One goal of the Research Training Group is to find an answer from the interdisciplinary perspective of linguistics, rhetoric and literary studies.



Susanne Winkler received an MA in English Linguistics, American Studies and Sports from the University of Tübingen and an MA in Special Education from the San Francisco State University. She wrote her PhD thesis on the topic of Focus and Secondary Predication (SGG43) and her postdoctoral thesis on Ellipsis and Focus in Generative Grammar (SGG 81). She has been working as a Professor of English Linguistics (chair of English Linguistics) at the University of Tübingen since 2008.



Susanne Winkler has a high-quality soft-money research record which has been driven by empirically based theoretical questions with the main focus on the interface between structure and meaning in discourse. In recent years she has widened the scope of her research agenda and added interdisciplinary projects with neurology and also with rhetoric and literary studies. The projects that are presently funded are project A7 on Fokuskonstruktionen und Freezing in the collaborative research center SFB 833 Constitution of Meaning, and project B5 which she leads together with Prof. Dr. Krägeloh-Mann and Dr. Karen Lidzba (Department of Neurology, University of Tübingen). This project investigates the Syntax and Semantics of reorganized Language and its Neuronal Basis. A complementary project (PIs Prof. Dr. Ackermann, Prof. Dr. Winkler) that is funded by an Intramural Research Grant (CIN) of the Excellence Cluster investigates Speech Imitation Talent. Susanne Winkler has had a lot of experience in research administration. She is vice speaker of the SFB 833 and also designated vice speaker of the Research Training Group: Ambiguity.



Susanne Winkler's teaching experience is based on over two decades of academic teaching in the core areas of grammar (morphology, syntax, semantics, phonology) and its interfaces to other cognitive domains (e.g. information structure and discourse, pragmatics, varieties, neurolinguistics, first and second language acquisition, language processing, language change). She taught various seminars on the topic of form and function in discourse, here in particular "Ambiguity and Processing", "Pragmatic Approaches to Ambiguity" (together with Prof. Dr. K. Kohn), "Ambiguity and Economy". The guiding interest is the clarification of the Paradox of Ambiguity. Presently she is working on new course designs which feed into the introductory lecture and seminars of the graduate level which target the issue of ambiguity and misunderstanding.


Other Activities

Susanne Winkler is engaged in a variety of international research cooperations. In particular, with Prof. Dr. Peter Culicover, Department of Linguistics, Ohio State University and Prof. Dr. Philip Hofmeister, Dep. of Linguistics, Essex, Prof. Dr. Thomas Wasow, and Prof. Dr. Ivan Sag Department of Linguistics, Stanford University concerning the topic of Grammar and Processing; with Prof. Dr. Valéria Molnár, German Centre for Languages and Literature, Lunds Universitet and with Prof. Nomi Erteschik-Shir (Ben Gurion University) concerning the topic The Architecture of Topic and Focus (including Ambiguity of Topic and Focus); with Prof. Dr. Ans van Kemenade, Radboud University, and Prof. Dr. Remus Gergel (University of Graz) concerning the topic Diachronic Development of Focus Constructions.


Publications on Ambiguity

  • Hartmann, Jutta M., Corinna Sauter, Gesa Schole, Wiltrud Wagner, Peter Gietz, Susanne Winkler (2016). "TInCAP – ein interdisziplinäres Korpus zu Ambiguitätsphänomenen." Conference abstract. DHd 2016 in Leipzig. http://dhd2016.de/boa.pdf
  • Winkler, Susanne (ed.) (2015): Ambiguity: Language and Communication. Berlin: de Gruyter.
  • Winkler, Susanne (2015) "Exploring Ambiguity and the Ambiguity Model from a Trans­disciplinary Perspective." Ambiguity: Language and Communication. Ed. Susanne Winkler. Berlin, New York: de Gruyter. 1-28.
  • Winkler, Susanne (2015) "Current Issues of Information Structure. Chapter 18: Ellipsis." The (Oxford) Handbook of Information Structure. Eds. C. Féry and S. Ishihara. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Knape, Joachim; Susanne Winkler (2015). "Strategisches Ambiguieren, Verstehenswechsel und rhetorische Textleistung. Am Beispiel von Shakespeares Antony-Rede." Ambiguity: Language and Communication. Ed. Susanne Winkler. Berlin, New York: de Gruyter. 51-88.
  • Schmeh, Katharina; Peter W. Culicover; Jutta Hartmann; Susanne Winkler (2015). "Discourse Function Ambiguity of Fragments: A Linguistic Puzzle." Ambiguity: Language and Communication. Ed. Susanne Winkler. Berlin, New York: de Gruyter. 199-216.
  • Wiedmann, Natalie; Susanne Winkler (2015). "The Influences of Prosody on Chilrden's Processing of Ambiguous Sentences." Ambiguity: Language and Communication. Ed. Susanne Winkler. Berlin, New York: de Gruyter. 185-194.
  • Bauer, Matthias; Joachim Knape; Peter Koch; Susanne Winkler (2010). "Dimensionen der Ambiguität." Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik 158: 7-75.
  • Klein, Wolfgang; Susanne Winkler (2010). "Einleitung." Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik 158: 5-6.
  • Klein, Wolfgang; Susanne Winkler (eds.) (2010): Ambiguität. Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik 158.
  • Winkler, Susanne; Andreas Konietzko (2010). "Contrastive Ellipsis: Mapping between Syntax and Information Structure." Lingua 120: 1436-1457.
  • Winkler, Susanne; Valéria Molnár (2010). "Edges and Gaps: Contrast at the Interfaces." Lingua 120: 1392-1415.
  • Bauer, Matthias; Joachim Knape; Peter Koch; Susanne Winkler (2009). "'Disarmed': Ein interdisziplinäres Gespräch über Ambiguität am Beispiel eines kausativen Verbs." Dimensionen der Zweitsprachenforschung / Dimensions of Second Language Research: Festschrift für Kurt Kohn. Ed. Michaela Albl-Mikasa, Sabine Braun and Sylvia Kalina. Tübingen: Narr. 253-276.
  • Winkler, Susanne; Peter W. Culicover (2008). "English Focus Inversion." Journal of Linguistics 44.3: 625-658.
  • Winkler, Susanne (2005). Ellipsis and Focus in Generative Grammar. Berlin: De Gruyter.
  • Winkler, Susanne (1997). Focus and Secondary Predication. Berlin: De Gruyter.


Further Publications

For a full list of publications, click here.