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English Department


Melanie Röthlisberger has completed her PhD on the dative alternation in varieties of English at the KU Leuven (Belgium) in 2018. Her research focuses on the interface between cognitive linguistics and sociolinguistics, that is, the (social) contextualization of variation in speakers' grammatical knowledge. She has investigated variability in the factors that constrain morphosyntactic variation, for instance the genitive and the dative alternation. As part of her research stay in Toronto, Canada, she also analyzed social and linguistic factors driving particle placement in Ontario English and worked on variable (t,d) in Toronto English (project(s) together with Sali A. Tagliamonte, Katharina Pabst and Lex Konnelly). As of July 2020, Melanie will be working on her own SNF-funded project affiliated to the German Department.


Melanie has a background in quantitative linguistics, particularly regression modeling, clustering and random partitioning techniques, as well as in Cognitive Sociolinguistics, World Englishes and dialectology.

[personal website]



Office hours: n.a.


Selected publications

accepted/in press

Benedikt Szmrecsanyi and Melanie Röthlisberger. World Englishes from the perspective of dialect typology. In: Daniel Schreier, Marianne Hundt and Edgar Schneider (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of World Englishes. Cambridge: CUP.

Marianne Hundt, Melanie Röthlisberger and Elena Seoane. Predicting voice alternation across academic Englishes. Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory.



2017. Röthlisberger, Melanie, Jason Grafmiller and Benedikt Szmrecsanyi. Cognitive indigenization effects in the English dative alternation. Cognitive Linguistics 18(4): 673-710.[preprint article]

2017. Grafmiller, Jason, Benedikt Szmrecsanyi, Melanie Röthlisberger & Benedikt Heller (eds.). Probabilistic grammars: Syntactic variation in a comparative perspective. Special Collection of Glossa: a journal of general linguistics. [Special Collection website]

2016. Szmrecsanyi, Benedikt, Jason Grafmiller, Benedikt Heller and Melanie Röthlisberger. Around the world in three alternations: modeling syntactic variation in varieties of English. English World-Wide 37(2), 109-137. [pdf article]

2015. Röthlisberger, Melanie. [Review]. The Evolution of Englishes: The Dynamic Model and beyond. Sarah Buschfeld, Thomas Hoffmann, Magnus Huber and Alexander Kautzsch (eds.). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. [pdf manuscript]

2013. Röthlisberger, Melanie and Gerold Schneider. 2013. Of-genitive versus s-genitive: A corpus-based analysis of possessive constructions in 20th century American English. In: Paul Bennett, Martin Durrell, Silke Scheible and Richard J. Whitt (eds.), New Methods in Historical Corpus Linguistics. Narr: Tübingen, 163-179. [pdf article]