Monday, October 20, 2014

Soon-to-come research in linguistics

It's very hard for an outsider to get a grasp on what's currently going on in linguistics, so I assembled here a few quotes for you from different research proposals and descriptions that have come during this year. This is not by any means a complete overview, just a few personal favorites. This should give you a better view of what research proposals look like, and a few of the current topics in linguistics. Do follow the links to learn more.

The spans of these projects are between 4-7 years and most often have just started or will very soon start. As you can probably tell there is considerable overlap in several cases. This might be a very good glimpse into studies that we should see published in a few years.

If you are considering studying in linguistics or pursuing a career in any other science of the humanities, having a look at calls, proposals and research aims of institutes, departments and centers are a very good idea. You might also want to consider signing up for the large mailing list in linguistics, here.

Alright, here we go!

University of Zurich (Switzerland)
Project: Special Interest Group (SIG) Areal Morphology within the University Research Priority Program (URPP) Language and Space at the University of Zurich
The URPP focuses on communication as linked to physical, social and perceptual space, through research on dialect/language contact as well as on interactional situations. Particular emphasis is placed on crossing traditional subdisciplinary boundaries and the URPP combines research in computational linguistics, geographic information science, comparative linguistics, Romance studies, German studies, Slavic studies, English studies, and Sinology.

Read more here

Dutch research consortium 'Language in Interaction' (Netherlands)
Language In Interaction
Project: PhD position 6:  The Babel Problem: The genesis and maintenance of diversity in human language
Diversity is one of the most extraordinary properties of human communication. An intriguing question is how this diversity - variation between languages and within languages - emerges and is maintained: the Babel Problem. (...) How much internal variation do these show? Given wide-spread multilingualism and contacts with others, how are boundaries maintained? This concerns both sharp (with unrelated languages) and soft boundaries (with related varieties). Do we find variation across all components of language? How is variation perceived?

Read more here

School of Oriental and Asian Studies (England)
Project: Crossroads - Investigating the unexplored side of multilingualism
Dr Lüpke’s project, due to start in January 2014, will research multilingualism in and language contact between three languages spoken at the "crossroads”, which is a group of neighbouring villages in the Casamance area of Senegal (West Africa). (...) The five-year project will look at social networks and the differences in language use in them.
Read more here 

Australian National University (Australia)
Project:  The Wellsprings of Linguistic Diversity
The project seeks to address fundamental questions of linguistic diversity and disparity through an analysis of linguistic variation and change. The project will address a crucial missing step in existing linguistic research by addressing the question of what drives linguistic diversification so much faster in some societies than in others. It will do this by undertaking intensive, matched case studies of speech communities across Australia and the Pacific

Read more here

Leiden University (Netherlands)
Project: Reconstructing the past through languages of the present: The Lesser Sunda Islands  
In areas without written historical records, where archaeological and ethnographic data are absent or sparse, language forms the backbone of our understanding of socio-cultural history. This project investigates one such region, in eastern Indonesia. What can languages spoken in the Lesser Sunda Islands today tell us about the histories of its various population groups?

Answering this question requires a novel, productive conjunction of contact linguistics, historical linguistics, and language typology studies. Our methodology includes quantitative cross-validation of qualitative research, and careful control of the variables that is uniquely possible in the Lesser Sundas.
  
Read more here

University of Zurich (Switzerland)
Project:  The Greater Burma zone - a transitional zone of languages and peoples
This project is a cross-disciplinary study of what I call the ‘Greater Burma Zone’, combining linguistics with anthropological and historical studies.(..) This project takes a fundamentally diachronic approach to the investigation of the language convergence, determining the social and political processes over the centuries that have brought speakers of languages into and across the region, and at other times have forced them out, leading to the present distribution of languages and linguistic features.

Read more here

ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language (Australia)
(Not project, from description of entire centre)
The interdisciplinary team assembled by our Centre aims to transform the understanding of language, drawing on the unparalleled linguistic diversity of the Asia-Pacific region to build models of language structure, learning, use and evolution that treat language and languages as perpetually dynamic systems pervaded by variation at all levels. 

Read more here

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