Seminar für Sprachwissenschaft

Research Apprenticeships

The goal of a research apprenticeship is to convey practical experience in the focal research topics of our institute and to lead students through individual guidance to independent research. Students are expected to work independently and to be self-motivated. Mentors will offer guidance, feedback and advice in regular meetings or other appropriate form.

Below is a list of possible topics offered by various members of our institute. Interested students should contact potential mentors for further information.



Information and Language


Language, Variation & Change, Language Structure


Christian Bentz

Human language is an information encoding device. This apprenticeship aims to

familiarize students with the theory of information and how it relates to research in linguistics.

The RA offers several topics: 1) language variation: information-theoretic accounts of linguistic

diversity, 2) language change: the evolution of information-encoding in human languages, 3) language

structure: investigating the difference between language and other communication systems.

Depending on preferences and skills, these topics can entail detailed literature reviews, (small scale)

corpus building, basic statistical analyses and visualizations with R.



Studying Dialect Data


Language, Variation & Change, Language Structure


Igor Yanovich

Spoken languages vary from town to town and village to village. That variation has been

recorded by dialectologists in impressive surveys published as dialectological atlases. Such

atlases represent a snapshop of the living language in its diversity, and can even allow researchers

a good view into the past. In this project, you will learn more about how dialects can differ from

each other and how they can be structured linguistically and geographically. The practical part of

the internship will involve working with a dialectological atlas, both by hand and electronically, in

order to better understand the information hidden in the atlas’s maps.


title Phonetics, Morphology and the Cognitive Aspects thereof
areas Language Processing, Language Structure and Language, Variation and Change
contact Harald Baayen
  For possible topics or research fields please consult the webpage of the group Quantitative Linguistics.
title Historical Linguistics and Language Evolution
areas Language, Variation & Change, Language Structure
contact Gerhard Jäger

For possible topics or research fields please contact Prof. Dr. Gerhard Jäger.



Using segment distances for weighted sequence alignment


Language, Variation & Change


Marisa Köllner

In historical linguistics the method of sequences comparison is used to align words with each other in order to cluster cognate into correspondence classes. The algorithm for sequence alignment can be weighted using segment distances between sounds. In dialectology, the segment distance is computed using sound recordings for each sound in the IPA and determining their similarity to each other. Those phonetic similarities or distances can be used as weights for sequences alignments. This project aims to compute segment distances using sound recordings from the sounds in the IPA, compute their similarity, and use the NELex Database to cluster words into cognate classes.  The results can then be used for further investigations in the field of sequence comparisons and cognate clustering.