Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Verhoeven

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Institut für deutsche Sprache und Linguistik

Elisabeth Verhoeven ist Professorin für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft an der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Ihre Forschungsschwerpunkte liegen im typologischen Sprachvergleich und in der Untersuchung weniger erforschter nicht-indoeuropäischer Sprachen, dabei insbesondere der Maya- und Chibchasprachen Zentralamerikas. Verhoeven arbeitet mit experimentellen und korpuslinguistischen Methoden, um zwischensprachliche Variation auf abstraktere Prinzipien des Sprachsystems zurückzuführen.


A06 Modeling register variation across languages


Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin

(030) 2093-9796

Publications & Presentations


  • Adli, Aria; Verhoeven, Elisabeth; Lehmann, Nico; Mortezapour, Vahid; Vander Klok, Jozina  (2023) Lang*Reg: A multi-lingual corpus of intra-individual variation across situations [DOI] [ViVo]
    Language: German, Persian, Yucatec Maya, Kurdish, Javanese
    Size: 36 hours
    Description: same speakers varied by mode, acquaintance, professionalism, and expertise
    Features: transcription, syntactic segmentation, normalization, token, glossing or POS-tags, some syntax
    Access: transcription or annotation in progress; CC-BY-NC-ND
  • Pescuma, Valentina Nicole; Serova, Dina; Lukassek, Julia; Sauermann, Antje; Schäfer, Roland; Adli, Aria; Bildhauer, Felix; Egg, Markus; Hülk, Kristina; Ito, Aine; Jannedy, Stefanie; Kordoni, Valia; Kühnast, Milena; Kutscher, Silvia; Lange, Robert; Lehmann, Nico; Liu, Mingya; Lütke, Beate; Maquate, Katja; Mooshammer, Christine; Mortezapour, Vahid; Müller, Stefan; Norde, Muriel; Pankratz, Elizabeth; Patarroyo, Angela Giovanna; Plesca, Ana-Maria; Ronderos, Camilo R.; Rotter, Stephanie; Sauerland, Uli; Schulte, Britta; Schüppenhauer, Gediminas; Sell, Bianca Maria; Solt, Stephanie; Terada, Megumi; Tsiapou, Dimitra; Verhoeven, Elisabeth; Weirich, Melanie; Wiese, Heike; Zaruba, Kathy; Zeige, Lars Erik; Lüdeling, Anke; Knoeferle, Pia; Schnelle, Gohar  (2023) Situating language register across the ages, languages, modalities, and cultural aspects: Evidence from complementary methods  In: Frontiers in Psychology [DOI] [PDF] [ViVo]
    In the present review paper by members of the collaborative research center ‘Register: Language Users’ Knowledge of SituationalFunctional Variation’ (CRC 1412), we assess the pervasiveness of register phenomena across different time periods, languages, modalities, and cultures. We define ‘register’ as recurring variation in language use depending on the function of language and on the social situation. Informed by rich data, we aim to better understand and model the knowledge involved in situation- and function-based use of language register. In order to achieve this goal, we are using complementary methods and measures. In the review, we start by clarifying the concept of ‘register’, by reviewing the state of the art, and by setting out our methods and modeling goals. Against this background, we discuss three key challenges, two at the methodological level and one at the theoretical level: 1. To better uncover registers in text and spoken corpora, we propose changes to established analytical approaches. 2. To tease apart between-subject variability from the linguistic variability at issue (intra-individual situation based register variability), we use within-subject designs and the modeling of individuals’ social, language, and educational background. 3. We highlight a gap in cognitive modeling, viz. modeling the mental representations of register (processing), and present our first attempts at filling this gap. We argue that the targeted use of multiple complementary methods and measures supports investigating the pervasiveness of register phenomena and yields comprehensive insights into the cross-methodological robustness of register-related language variability. These comprehensive insights in turn provide a solid foundation for associated cognitive modeling.
  • Lehmann, Nico; Verhoeven, Elisabeth  (2022) Discourse-Independent Variation in V-Initial Constituent Order: The Yucatec Mayan Preverbal Domain Revisited  In: ProcLingEvi2020, Universität Tübingen [DOI] [PDF] [ViVo]
    Contribution to Linguistic Evidence 2020
  • Lüdeling, Anke; Alexiadou, Artemis; Adli, Aria; Donhauser, Karin; Dreyer, Malte; Egg, Markus; Feulner, Anna Helene; Gagarina, Natalia; Hock, Wolfgang; Jannedy, Stefanie; Kammerzell, Frank; Knoeferle, Pia; Krause, Thomas; Krifka, Manfred; Kutscher, Silvia; Lütke, Beate; McFadden, Thomas; Meyer, Roland; Mooshammer, Christine; Müller, Stefan; Maquate, Katja; Norde, Muriel; Sauerland, Uli; Szucsich, Luka; Verhoeven, Elisabeth; Waltereit, Richard; Wolfsgruber, Anne; Zeige, Lars Erik  (2020) Register: Language Users’ Knowledge of Situational-Functional Variation  In: REALIS: Register Aspects of Language in Situation [DOI] [PDF] [ViVo]
    The Collaborative Research Center 1412 “Register: Language Users’ Knowledge of Situational-Functional Variation” (CRC 1412) investigates the role of register in language, focusing in particular on what constitutes a language user’s register knowledge and which situational-functional factors determine a user’s choices. The following paper is an extract from the frame text of the proposal for the CRC 1412, which was submitted to the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft in 2019, followed by a successful onsite evaluation that took place in 2019. The CRC 1412 then started its work on January 1, 2020. The theoretical part of the frame text gives an extensive overview of the theoretical and empirical perspectives on register knowledge from the viewpoint of 2019. Due to the high collaborative effort of all PIs involved, the frame text is unique in its scope on register research, encompassing register-relevant aspects from variationist approaches, psycholinguistics, grammatical theory, acquisition theory, historical linguistics, phonology, phonetics, typology, corpus linguistics, and computational linguistics, as well as qualitative and quantitative modeling. Although our positions and hypotheses since its submission have developed further, the frame text is still a vital resource as a compilation of state-of-the-art register research and a documentation of the start of the CRC 1412. The theoretical part without administrative components therefore presents an ideal starter publication to kick off the CRC’s publication series REALIS. For an overview of the projects and more information on the CRC, see
  • Verhoeven, Elisabeth; Lehmann, Nico  (2018) Self-embedding and complexity in oral registers  In: Glossa: a journal of general linguistics [DOI] [ViVo]
    This article reports the results of a study on the self-embedding depth of nominal, verbal and clausal projections in spoken corpora of German. We compared two spoken registers featuring public and non-public (i.e. private) conversation by measuring the depth of self-embedding in C, V, and N projections. The findings confirm the hypothesis that the familiarity of the speech situation (public vs. non-public speech) has a significant impact on complexity in terms of self-embedding: speakers use more self-embedding in public speech production in different syntactic projections. In addition, we examined previous assumptions about the differences between right, left, and center embedding in C projections. The results confirm a preference against center embedding in non-public texts, which reflects the complexity of center embedding. Finally, we find evidence that the depth of self-embedding in V and C projections is correlated. This finding suggests that self-embedding depth is part of a general strategy, i.e., speakers select more or less complex structures (of different types) depending on factors of the speech situation.
  • Presentations