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About linguistics

for people interested in linguistics

Automatic translation is not yet perfect but very nicely illustrates the power of applications based on current linguistic knowledge.

Everything starts with observing that the world around us varies: people use different words to convey different meanings, expressions with the same content have different form in different languages, use of language varies in different conversations. This is not yet linguistics, but enough reason for linguistics, that is the science of language.


Linguistics is the science of language: the ultimate target is to develop a theory about the nature of language, starting with the foundational cognitive mechanisms that explain how human languages work. Based on linguistic theory, linguists try to assess:

  • the way children or adult learners acquire languages;
  • the universals and the differences between the languages of the world;
  • the way languages change over time;
  • the way language is used in real communication, including written text and conversation;
  • the psychological reality of language, including the cognitive processes of speech production and comprehension.


Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft: Info für Studieninteressierte
von Georg Höhn

Sprache und Sprachen; Zur Sprachwissenschaft; Studium der Sprachwissenschaft.

Working methods

For this purpose, linguists employ a variety of methods:

Skills of a linguist

A linguist acquires a manifold qualification combining

which can be employed in a large array of professional fields beyond the core applications of linguistics...

World's languages

languages of the world
language families
linguistic universals
Ancient Indo-European languages
languages of the Americas, Caucasian languages, African languages
endangered languages of Europe


Grammars of Ancient Indo-European explained for students of linguistics. Project of the Institute for Linguistics in Göttingen.



Course offered by a network of experts at the Universities of Bamberg, Cambridge, Göttingen, Moscow, Nicosia, Paris.


Sprachverwandtschaften im Germanischen, von Paulien Veenstra

Indogermanisch, Lautverschiebung, Norwegisch, Schwedisch, Dänisch.


Linguistic phenomena

See also Lingthusiasm,
a podcast on languages and linguistic research.

3-konsonantische Wurzeln, von Anna Pessarrodona Marfà

dreikonsonantische Wurzeln, nicht-konkatenative Morphologie, Arabisch, salam - islam - muslim


Possession, von Florian Fischer

Eigentum, Teil-Ganzes, alienabel, inalienabel, Verwandtschaft, Nominalisierung, Prädikative und Attributive Possession.


Alignment, von Fernando García Mendívil

Ergativ, Split-S, Fluid-S, Baskisch, Tongaisch, Georgisch... Dyirbal, Universalien, Typologie und Arealverbreitung.

Templatic morphology:

expressing meaning with consonant templates

Noun classes:

expressing complex ontologies with gender


whom belongs what?


telling a clause with one word

Lexical tones:

expressing meaning with melody

Analytical methods

linguistic structures
nature of language
universal properties of human languages
cognitive foundations of linguistic competence
predictive models of language change

Noam Chomsky

Opening Lecture about Minimalism: Where are we now, and where can we hope to go? Graduate School "Form-Meaning Mismatches" in Göttingen. (YouTube video)


Syntaktische Bewegung
von Fernando García Mendívil

Phrasale Bewegung, A-Bewegung, A-bar-Bewegung, Kopf-Bewegung

Linguistic fieldwork


Gesellschaft für bedrohte Sprachen

The society for endangered languages organizes events and funds projects on the documentation of endangered languages


Language documentation in Ambrym

Kilu von Prince (University of Düsseldorf), Manfred Krifka (ZAS & HU, Berlin) documenting languages in Vanuatu (YouTube video)

discovering languages
language endangerement
language documentation
how to learn an undescribed language?
discovering the limits of language variation in the world's languages
language, culture, and thought
working in a remote speech community

Language and Cognition

human cognition and language universals
how do children acquire language?
bilingual mind
how are sentences processed in real time?
which processes are involved in speech production?

Können Kinder nur eine Sprache gleichzeitig lernen?

Artikel über mehrsprachigen Spracherwerb, Website der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft


Steven Pinker

In this lecture, Steven Pinker, discusses linguistics as a window to understanding the human brain. (YouTube video)

Language and Society


COVID-19: Language matters!

UN-website: language, information, disinformation, indigenous people and COVID-19

language and communication
emergence of dialects and languages
language ideologies
linguistic norms
language and nationalism
language at school, in social media, in mass media, at home