For almost a century English has been one of the most spoken and the most frequently studied languages. Millions of speakers and users of English around the world have contributed towards making it both a universal language in politics, commerce, technology, and popular culture, as well as a professional lingua franca for writers, educators, and scholars. At the same time, English has become an exceptionally diverse language, with many regional, social, and ethnic forms developing in English-speaking countries, diasporas, and communities on all world continents.
At this department, we believe that it is of paramount importance to engage with the full historical range of this recent evolution as well as its more distant precursor in the early modern and medieval periods. We explore contemporary and historical English varieties at all structural levels, for example, vocabulary, sounds, grammar, as well as aspects of language use, both independently and in relation to social parameters of class, gender, age, occupation, ethnic background, and so on. We also have a vested interest in English as a second language and foster our ties to the wider national and international community of teachers of English, contributing to our common knowledge of processes of language acquisition and of learner varieties.
Our teaching is research-based. We equip our students with a profound understanding of current theories in linguistics as well as its disciplinary history. In order to foster independent research, we offer training in a broad range of methodological tools, such as corpus studies, linguistic experiments, field work, and questionnaires, as well as basic knowledge of statistical modelling. Our goal is for students to gain a thorough appreciation of language as a complex social, cultural, and historical phenomenon and to acquire the necessary research skills.
At Bachelor level, students learn how to analyze linguistic data in a structured, scientific way and are introduced to theoretical and methodological tools needed for such analyses. At Master level, students work towards developing their own research project in one of the specialized areas of English linguistics, such as language use, language variation and change, the relation between language and the mind, as well as language structure. The linguists at the English Department also contribute to interdisciplinary programmes such as the MA Vergleichende germanische Sprachwissenschaft, the MA Mediävistik, the Mono-Master in Linguistics, as well as the PhD Program Linguistics.