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  • I grew up with a strange name in a small village in Franconia.
  • I studied Sinology and Comparative Literature at Freie Universität Berlin and majored in General Linguistics at Technische Universität Berlin.
  • I spent a year in Beijing, where I studied at 北外 (Beijing Foreign Studies University) and worked at the Microsoft Research Center.
  • I was headed to SOAS for a PhD in Language Documentation when Manfred Krifka from Humboldt-Universität asked me whether I’d like to document languages in Vanuatu. I said yes.
  • While waiting for the grant decision on the documentation project, I worked with Malte Zimmermann at Potsdam University for 9 months on Chinese Information Structure.
  • Between 2009 and 2013, I documented two endangered and previously undescribed languages of Vanuatu: Daakaka and Dalkalaen.
  • After the documentation project, I wrote a grant proposal with Manfred Krifka. While waiting on the decision, I held positions at ZAS Berlin, working on embedding structures in Bislama, and at Humboldt-Universität, working on possession, serial verb constructions and modal semantics. In 2014, I had my son Leonhard and took 8 months of parental leave.
  • Since March 2016, my project proposal with Manfred Krifka on TAM expressions in Melanesian languages has been funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and is hosted by Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.
  • During the winter semester of 2017/18 I am a guest professor at Universität des Saarlandes, working on information density in cross-linguistic comparison.

Academic positions

2017-2018 Guest professor, SFB on Information Density and Linguistic Encoding, at Universität des Saarlandes
since 2016 Principal investigator, MelaTAMP project, funded by DFG
since 2014 Post-doctoral research fellow, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
2013-2014 Post-doctoral research fellow, Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (Center for general linguistics), Berlin. PB3: Research on clause-embedding predicates in Bislama.
2009-2013 Research assistant in the DoBeS project documenting the languages of West Ambrym, Vanuatu: Documentation of Daakaka and Dalkalaen
2008-2009 Research assistant, Special Research Unit 632, Universität Potsdam:
Investigations into information structure in Mandarin Chinese

Non-academic positions


Language expert, Microsoft Research Center Beijing (research on Text-to- Speech technology, phonology workshops for developers)


2009-2012 Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Comparative Linguistics, Ph.D. thesis: A Grammar of Daakaka
2003-2008 Technische Universität Berlin, General Linguistics, M.A.; Freie Universität Berlin, Sinology (minor) and Comparative Linguistics (minor), M.A.
2005-2006 Beijing Foreign Studies University (北京外国语大学)

Awards, Grants Scholarships

2016 September.  Honorable Mention for the Franz Boas Award.
2016 March.  MelaTAMP project, author of the proposal (with Manfred Krifka).
2015/2016 Fellowship, SIAS summer institute, The Investigation of Linguistic Meaning:
In the Armchair, in the Field, and in the Lab, National Humanities Center
and Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.
2004-2008 Full scholarship, German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes)
2005-2006 Full scholarship for one year at Beijing Foreign Studies University, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)
2005 Scholarship for a language course (advanced) in Saint Petersburg, Irmgard Ulderup Foundation


2016 TAM im Sprachvergleich (Tense, aspect, mood in cross-linguistic comparison). SE, graduate. Humboldt-Universität.
2015/16 Dimensionen sprachlicher Variation (Dimensions of linguistic variation). Lecture, undergrad. Humboldt-Universität.
2014/15 Possessive Strukturen im Sprachvergleich (possessive structures in cross-linguistic comparison). SE, graduate. Humboldt-Universität.
2014/15 Dokumentation bedrohter Sprachen (documenting endangered languages). SE, graduate. Universität Potsdam
2013 Dokumentation bedrohter Sprachen (documenting endangered languages). SE, undergraduate. Universität Potsdam
2012 Serialverbkonstruktionen (serial verb constructions). SE, graduate. Humboldt-Universität.
2014/15 Possessive Strukturen im Sprachvergleich (possessive structures in cross-linguistic comparison). SE, graduate. Humboldt-Universität.
2010/11 Modus und Modalität (Mood and modality). SE, graduate. Humboldt-Universität.
2009 Fokussemantik (focus semantics). SE, undergraduate. Universität Potsdam
2008/09 Schriftsysteme (writing systems). SE, graduate. Technische Universität Berlin

Organization of workshops

2017 with Anne Mucha and Ryan Bochnak Towards an ontology of modal flavors. At Universität des Saarlandes, at the 39. DGfS  meeting
2013 with Felix Rau: Exploring data from language documentation. At ZAS Berlin, funded by Clarin-D, FAG 3


2016 Jens Hopperdietzel, MA thesis
2016 Theresa Travelstead, BA thesis

Editorial work

  • Selection of reviewers for a special edition of Studies in Language, during Eva van Lier’s maternity leave.

Peer Reviewing


  • Glossa
  • Linguistic discovery

Book manuscript reviewing

Language Science Press

Grant reviewing

Endangered Languages Documentation Program (ELDP)

Conference reviewing

  • Sinn und Bedeutung
  • TripleA
  • Glow
  • AFLA