General research interests

My research interests in theoretical and German linguistics cover lexicology, phonology, graphematics, morphology, syntax, and semantics. The current focus of my research are the theory and description of word formation and, more recently, inflection.

Word-formation theory and word-formation description

Over the last years, I have developed a general theory of word formation in the Item-and-Process tradition, dubbed Pattern-and-Restriction Theory (PR), and applied it to word-formation phenomena in German. Recently, I have generalised it in such a way as not only to account for word formation, but also for inflection.

According to PR, the formation component of a linguistic system provides pairings of formation patterns and related formation restrictions. Word-formation patterns are distinguished from inflection patterns with respect to their function: in traditional terms, word-formation patterns, but not inflection patterns, are used to ‘create new words’. Sets of word-formation patterns determine the productive or unproductive word-formation processes in the system. Ultimately, word-formation processes, word-formation patterns, and formation restrictions serve to establish the word-formation relations between (conventionalised or non-conventionalised) lexical units in the system. A direct word-formation relation holds between a lexical product and one or more lexical bases in a linguistic system if, and only if, a word-formation process in the system can form at least one formation instance (i.e. a categorised and interpreted form) of the product by means of a word-formation pattern from formation instances of the bases, provided that those formation instances conform to the formation restriction associated with the pattern. An indirect word-formation relation holds between lexical units in a linguistic system if, and only if, a direct word-formation relation holds in the system between a lexically equivalent lexical units (e.g. their stems).

For the formal modelling of linguistic objects and their semantic interpretation, PR presupposes the theoretical framework of Integrational Linguistics (IL). IL takes a Word-and-Paradigm approach to lexical units, which can not only model morphologically, but also syntactically, complex words.

The most complete description of PR can be found in my habilitation thesis, which provides an axiomatic formalisation of PR and applies it to major conversion patterns in German systems. Its major results are reported in a paper on the explanation of statements of word-formation relations in PR, which also includes an updated formalisation of PR’s theoretical core with the above mentioned generalisations for inflection. Further publications are in preparation.

PPR, the System for Processing Word-formation Patterns and Their Restrictions, is a sample implementation of PR, supplying selected word-formation patterns and a very limited lexicon for spoken and written German linguistic systems.

Writing systems, numerals, adpositions

In addition to word formation and inflection, I am in particular interested in: