Finished Projects

Implicational hierarchies in clausal complementation


A common feature of languages from diverse families is the expression of thoughts, beliefs, utterances, claims, conjectures, wishes, and many other concepts via clausal subordination—verbs corresponding to these concepts (e.g., believe, say, think, want) combine with a dependent subordinate clauses such as embedded finite clauses, infinitives, or others. Subordination involves construing a dependent state of affairs in relation to the state of affairs expressed by the main clause, and complementation is a particular type of subordination (other types are adverbial or relative sentences) where the dependent clause is an argument of a predicate. Languages exhibit a variety of different types of complementation, which can be divided into different classes based on their semantic properties (such as interrogative, propositional attitude, modal) and/or their morphosyntactic properties (such as finite, non-finite, subjunctive, nominalization, and others). A striking observation that has been made in many works on complementation is that there is a dependency between the meaning of a complementation configuration and its morphosyntactic coding—changing one often also results in a change of the other.

One of the core hypotheses of the project is that the relation between a complement clause and the matrix verb is bi-directional in that they may influence each other. This synthesis approach can be couched in a free merge system, where verb-complement configurations are computed freely in syntax, and their compatibility is determined at the output (when syntax feeds into the interfaces). The bi-directionality of the synthesis model allows for mutual influences, and the result is determined jointly by both components of the complementation configuration—a matrix verb can impose properties on the embedded clause, but properties of an embedded clause can also affect the matrix predicate. An area where the complement’s influence on the matrix predicate is observable particularly well is alternating verbs such as tell, forget, or know. In English, as in many other languages, these verbs occur in two frames: an infinitival construction, The bear forgot to eat the cookies, or a finite construction, The bear forgot that it ate the cookies. The meanings of the two configurations, however, show a clear difference: the infinitival construction is implicative and entails that the bear did not eat the cookies, whereas the finite construction is factive and means that it did eat them. Since factive verbs do not generally require finite complements, it is the interaction of the matrix verb and the morphosyntactic composition of the complement clause that determines the meaning of a complementation configuration.

While the morphosyntactic coding of complement clauses shows significant variation across languages, typological studies have shown that there is nevertheless a systematicity to the distribution which points to an abstract universal interaction of semantic and morphosyntactic properties, and more generally, a possibly universal organization of complementation. The broad goal of this project is to investigate the nature and distribution of, and regularities among the dependencies found between the meaning and the morphosyntactic coding of complementation configurations cross-linguistically.

The starting point is the typological observation that complementation configurations are ranked according to their semantic properties (see in particular Givón 1980), forming an implicational complementation hierarchy (ICH). The implicational nature can be observed in the distribution of syntactic or morphological distinctions, which, if present in a language, operate in a directional manner along the hierarchy leading to contingent predictions about adjacent configurations (such as ‘if a type of complement has property X, all complement types to its right/left also have property X’). Following such approaches, the overarching typological hypothesis of the project is thus that there is a possibly universal implicational complementation hierarchy  which is defined semantically and detectable through a diverse set of morphological, syntactic, and semantic properties.

Although a variety of semantic classifications can be found, a broad grouping reflected in most typologies is what can be defined as Propositions > Situations > Events. The most basic class (Events) involves complements expressing bare eventualities; the second class (Situations) is attained by adding time and world parameters to an Event; and the most complex class (Propositions) results from anchoring a Situation to an utterance or embedding context. Building on these concepts, a complementation hierarchy arises which shows increasing semantic complexity and is implicational in that lower classes are contained in higher classes. In contrast to matrix sentences, complement clauses do not have to be built up to the final stage, but may constitute smaller structures, of various sizes, subject to certain restrictions (including the requirement that the larger constituents must contain the smaller ones). This renders the implicational hierarchy that holds among Propositions > Situations > Events. As a result, the three classes align according to their degree of independence (for example, (in)dependent time or subject interpretations), transparency (the possibility of cross-clausal operations) and integration (incorporation or restructuring). Languages use different strategies to code the three classes, including gerunds, participles, subjunctives, nominalizations, independent subjects, or different complementizers. Since the implicational hierarchy is an abstract, underlying scale, the distribution of language-specific morphosyntactic coding is constrained by the ICH rather than defining it.

The project puts forward and tests hypotheses for defining the ICH, as well as a model that derives the ranking and implicational relations. The ultimate goal is to develop a comprehensive theory of complementation, pursuing research questions such as: Are the factors determining the semantic ranking of the ICH functional, grammatical or both? What specific properties yield the semantic ranking of the ICH? How do the ordering and implicational nature of the ICH arise? What syntactic configurations do the semantic ICH categories correspond to? What is the interaction between syntax and semantics in complementation? How can the ICH be situated in different clause structure models? What is the relation between the matrix predicate and the embedded clause? How is the mapping between the ICH and morphosyntactic properties established? Which morphosyntactic and semantic effects show sensitivity to the ICH cross-linguistically?

The project follows the framework of formal generative typology (Baker 2009, Baker and McCloskey 2007), which allows combining tools from both generative grammar and typology. While we focus on providing a grammatical-structural analysis of complementation, the results are compared to typological and functional approaches, and the answers to the general questions should have relevance for a range of approaches to complementation as well as the general relation between (morpho-)syntactic coding and semantics.

Projektleitung: Mag. Susanne Wurmbrand, PhD
Projektmitarbeiter: Iva Kovač, Magdalena Lohninger, BA MA
Laufzeit: November 2020 – laufend

Sprachkompass suffizientes Handeln


Zwischen August 2018 bis voraussichtlich Juli 2021 wird in Wien und Bern ein anwendungsorientiertes diskurs- und ökolinguistisches Forschungsprojekt durchgeführt, das die Stiftung Mercator Schweiz finanziert. Die Diskurslinguistik hat in den letzten Jahren neue Erkenntnisse über den Zusammenhang von Sprache, Denken und Handeln zutage gefördert. Wie wir unsere Umwelt und andere Menschen wahrnehmen, ist wesentlich – und nicht selten unbewusst – durch die Art und Weise geprägt, wie wir sie sprachlich erfassen und darstellen. Das Projekt Sprachkompass suffizientes Handeln untersucht relevante öffentliche Diskurse zu den Themen Mobilität (Alltagsverkehr und touristisches Reisen) und Ernährung im Hinblick auf ihre erkenntnis- und handlungsleitende WirkungEs erforscht, in welcher Weise die verwendeten sprachlichen Darstellungsformen zu einem suffizienten Umgang mit den natürlichen Ressourcen anleiten oder diesen behindern. Die Ergebnisse werden über verschiedene Kommunikationsformate ausgewählten Zielgruppen und einem breiten Publikum zugänglich gemacht und erlangen so gesellschaftliche Wirkung.

Die Hauptträgerinstitution des Projekts ist das Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) der Universität Bern. In Wien ist das Projekt am Institut für Sprachwissenschaft der Universität Wien angesiedelt.

Projektleitung: Dr. Hugo Caviola (Bern, Projektleitung), Ass.-Prof. Mag. Dr. Martin Reisigl (Wien, stellvertretende Projektleitung)
Mag. Andrea Sabine Sedlaczek (Wien, Assistenz), Mike Weibel, MA (Bern, Kommunikationsberatung), Dr. Anne Zimmermann (Bern, Nachhaltigkeitsberatung), Dipl. Ing. Hans Weiss (Bern, Kulturingeneur, v.a. in den Bereichen Landschaftsschutz und Raumplanung), Dipl. Ing. Andreas Kläy (Bern, Nachhaltigkeitsexperte)
Laufzeit: August 2018 – laufend
Das Projekt ist ein Nachfolgeprojekt des Projekts Sprachkompass Landschaft (

Views in*t(w)o Literacies. Digital Literacy Narratives about reading, writing and language learning


The project Views in*t(w)o Literacies asks for the many aspects of literacy-related practices and learning processes as experienced by language learners and literacy users.

Citizens are encouraged to share their personal experiences with literacy acquisition and processes of reading, writing and language learning in form of oral, written or digital Literacy Narratives. We invite participants of any age (child, teenager, adult, or senior) with diverse learning experiences, educational backgrounds, occupational or legal status, at any level of language proficiency, to contribute to our collection of Literacy Narratives. Participants can upload their stories on the project’s interactive web-platform.

(Digital) Literacy Narratives are first-hand narratives about reading, writing and language learning in any form, context or media. These digital stories are composed of language(s) in oral or written form combined with images, video, music, motion or other modes. They may tell us stories about books, bed-time-stories, learning Chinese characters or reading a Holy Book, about struggling readers, developing a personal handwriting, about changing your online status or composing websites and about all the experiences related to these events.

Literacy Narratives give us an understanding of socially constructed values and beliefs that shape and are shaped by literacy practices in complex cultural, political and historical contexts. Major objectives of the project are to encourage individuals to express their experiences, thoughts, attitudes and ideas about successful learning processes and to pool experiences of academic and non-academic individuals. Each contribution may help to improve and diversify the ways literacy and languages are learned or taught and to create new directions for language teaching and learning.

All incoming contributions will be accepted as part of the corpus. Only those contributions that authors wish to share will be published on the website. Commenting, liking, asking and discussing are other forms or participation that contribute to our research aim: to encourage reflexive processes of favorable and adverse conditions of literacy acquisition and language learning.

Project lead: Nadja Kerschhofer-Puhalo
Project team: Nadja Kerschhofer-Puhalo, Werner Mayer, Sarah Ritt, Eva Vetter
Funding: a Top Citizen Science project, funded by the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy (BMWFW), the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and the Oead
Funding period: January 2017 - March 2020

Language Learning Abilities

Exploring individual differences in language learning abilities: from linguistic morphology to brain morphology

The present PhD theses project, covering in a rare interdisciplinary way the fields and work of three PhD students, have the overarching aim of investigating individual differences in first and second language acquisition performance, proficiency and aptitude – from linguistic, psycholinguistic, psycho-cognitive and neurological perspectives. All topics are interrelated and profit from the exchange of theoretical background and methodological experimental material. Individual differences in the process, performance and proficiency levels of first and second language acquisition have long been observed by us, but are very difficult to be investigated experimentally, because of their eclectic interdisciplinary nature (spanning the fields of psychology, linguistics, cognitive science, social sciences, biology and neurosciences). Here the doctoral students propose a novel interdisciplinary project to overcome these experimental difficulties by investigating language acquisition from three different standpoints: a psycholinguistic view (PhD 1), a cognitive-psychological view (PhD 2) and a cognitive-neuroscientific one (PhD 3). The far-reaching aim of the project is to improve and develop testing material (language acquisition and aptitude tests) which could be further used in the fields of linguistics, psycho- and neurolinguistics and be useful for advances in language teaching methodology.

BetreuerInnen: Wolfgang Dressler (Institut für Sprachwissenschaft), Annemarie Peltzer-Karpf (Anglistik, Universität Graz), Susanne Reiterer (Institut für Sprachwissenschaften; ZLB), Peter Schneider (Universitätsklinikum Heidelberg), Annemarie Seither-Preisler (Zentrum für systematische Musikwissenschaft, Universität Graz)
ÖAW DOC Team StipendiatInnen: Markus Christiner (Institut für Sprachwissenschaft, Universität Wien), Sabine Sommer-Lolei (Institut für Sprachwissenschaft, Universität Wien), Sabrina Turker (Institut für Anglistik, Universität Graz)
Finanzierung: ÖAW
Laufzeit: September 2017– August 2020

How language shapes perception and cognition:

A constravice studiy of space and evidentiality in German and Korean

The project investigates the details of how language influences human perception and cognition in two domains: Space, a perceptual domain, foundational to cognition (e.g., action control, navigation), and 'evidentiality,' a cognitive domain of source monitoring (e.g., direct evidence vs. hearsay), important for generalization and inference. We specifically examine whether the language-specific grammar of Korean vs. German for (1) spatial causal events (e.g., X puts Y into/onto Z) and (2) information sources influences humans’ perception of motion, control of visual attention, inference ability, and event memory: German and Korean differ significantly in grammar. We therefore examine both children and adults to understand the developmental changes in language, perception, and cognition. We hypothesize a dynamic relationship between language, perception, and cognition such that while speakers universally perceive features, the language they speak influences the relative weights of attention to features: To the extent that perceptual and cognitive processes indeed depend upon language, these processes should differ between German and Korean speakers, and the differences should emerge as children acquire their native tongue’s grammar. We propose a set of experiments with diverse methods to pinpoint similar and differential behaviors to sort out the degrees and developmental changes of the influence of language on perception and cognition.

Projektleitung: Soonja Choi und Ulrich Ansorge
ProjektmitarbeiterInnen: Florian Goller, Alexandra Kroiss, Daniel Mitic, Kathrin Rosensprung
Finanzierung: WWTF (Wiener Wissenschafts-, Forschungs- und Technologiefonds)
Laufzeit: Juni 2016 – Mai 2020

My Literacies. Approaches to literacies in multimedia and multilingual contexts — The view of the child


The Sparkling Science-Project, My Literacies, investigates the diversity of literacy practices in a multimedia and multilingual society from the child’s perspective.

In everyday life, literacy – the use of writing and written language – forms part of our social practices. In a modern information society, the written word is present not only in books, newspapers and magazines, but also in posters, labels, stickers, traffic signs etc. Literal practices are closely connected with the use of new technologies such as the Internet, mobile communications, video games etc. (multimedia). Furthermore, the written word is increasingly associated with other perceptual modes such as colour, picture, sound or motion (multimodality). The diversity of literacy practices in our society is further broadened by the ability of people, who have grown up with different language backgrounds (multilingualism), different writing systems and the diversity of ways that writing is combined with other modes and is incorporated in different media (multiliteracies).

The aim of the project is to explore literacy as part of the diversity of social practices from the perspective of the child as multilingual, multiliterate and multicompetent “literacy user”. A further aim of the project is to build on the repertoire of methods in reading research and sociolinguistics using methods such as Linguistic Landscape and Social Semiotics, videography, picture analysis and discourse analysis, which have so far scarcely been used in reading research.

As part of this project, students from the 3rd and 4th grade in three Viennese primary schools are encouraged to record the extracurricular use of everyday literacy practices in their families and communities in photos, text, pictures and films. Materials collected by the children and their commentary, description and interpretation will be analysed by linguists and will also serve as reading resources in teaching projects.


Project lead: Nadja Kerschhofer-Puhalo
Project team: Nadja Kerschhofer-Puhalo, Werner Mayer
Funding: funded by Sparkling Science - a programme of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy (BMWFW)
Funding period: 01.11.2014-31.10.2019


Universalien und Variation in Satzeinbettungen/Universals and variation in clausal complementation 


A core form of linguistic recursion involves verbal subordination configurations. A sentence with a main verb plus one or more auxiliary verbs is typically seen as a mono-clausal configuration, whereas a sentence containing an additional finite clause commonly instantiates a bi-clausal configuration. A simple mono/bi-clausal division becomes insufficient, however, once the entirety of embedding structures is considered. Instead we find different degrees of clausehood along a scale of syntactic complexity, with auxiliaries on one end and finite clauses at the other end. The over-arching hypothesis of this project is that the scale of clausehood is a fundamental property of language, which reflects an implicational hierarchy of minimal clause size as determined by an interplay of syntactic and semantic properties of embedding. The hypothesis is based on the observation that there is a cross-linguistically stable split of embedded clauses into three types of complements which are defined semantically and form the complexity scale: (most complex) propositional attitude » future » tenseless (least complex). This scale is observable cross-linguistically through a diverse set of restructuring signature effectsmorphological, syntactic, semantic, and processing properties, which distinguish between the three types of complements in showing increasing transparency potential and/or decreasing syntactic complexity from the left to the right on the scale. The specific hypotheses tested are: i) every language (with sentential embedding) shows at least some restructuring signature effect; ii) no language/property shows (a) increasing transparency or (b) decreasing complexity from right to left on the scale. Differences among different types of complementation can be found in a wide range of languages, but since language-specific factors often mask properties common across languages, a direct surface-oriented comparison of complementation configurations is not always possible. The use of implicational hierarchy effects and restructuring signature properties provides a new way to compare structural complexity across languages, despite language-specific differences. The tools and resources developed in this project allow approaching the question of what grammatical properties are common to languages at a more abstract level, and what the extent of variation is.

Projektleitung: Susanne Wurmbrand
Martin Prinzhorn
Finanzierung: FWF, Lise Meitner Programm
Laufzeit: November 2017 – laufend

(Proto-)Indo-European kinship terms and society — a comparative study on formation, relative chronology and development of kinship terms in the Indo-European languages


Reconstruction of the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) kinship terminology is of great importance for Indo-European studies because this lexical group belongs to the most conservative vocabulary along with designations of animals and plants, anatomical parts, and natural phenomena. The reconstruction of these words does not only give insights into archaic patterns of word formation but also, to a certain extent, into the life of the Proto-Indo-Europeans. Accordingly, this topic has been extensively studied since the very first days of comparative linguistics. However, there still remain some major and minor problems and challenges.

In my research I will try to drive this topic out of the dead end by employing a new principle of semantic analysis that takes into account achievements of contemporary social anthropologists, ethnographic data of the recent decades, and new facts about ancient IE cultures from the evidence which was only found and deciphered within the recent hundred years (such as Hittite texts and Birch Bark Literacy form Novgorod). All this information was unknown to anthropologists (e.g., L. H. Morgan, J. J .Bachofen) and philologists of the 19th century (e.g., F. Bopp, B. Delbrück), whose works became a foundation of our concept of archaic societies including the PIE society. Their ideas (actual and innovative for their time but not quite up-to-date at the moment) need reconsidering and reformulating. Otherwise they cause unnecessary formalistic prejudices and obstruct the research.

The other essential point of my study is the assuredness that the vocabulary of any language (even a reconstructed one) is not a ready-made and homogeneous system but a result of a long development and has both synchronic and diachronic register variations. Along these lines, I view the PIE kinship terminology as a compilation of words originally belonging to different temporal and stylistic layers (which does not exclude the probability that at a certain period in Late PIE they might have been perceived and actively used as a full-fledged system). Therefore, some semantically related lexical items (such as “son” and “daughter”) can have no etymological connection to each other and should be analysed as words that were coined separately and, sometimes, not as kinship terms proper, and only later they were compiled together and formed the PIE kinship terminology we can reconstruct.

Projektleitung: Melanie Malzahn
Projektmitarbeiterin: Veronika Milanova
Laufzeit: Jänner 2016 – Dezember 2018

Zur diskursiven Konstruktion österreichischer Identität/en 2015: Eine Longitudinalstudie


Mit Jahresbeginn 2015 startete am Wiener Institut für Sprachwissenschaft ein dreijähriges Forschungsprojekt, das an bisherige diskursanalytische Arbeiten zur Konstruktion österreichischer Identität/en anschließt.

Die Jahre 2014-2015 bieten in mehrfacher Hinsicht Gelegenheit, die bisherige Forschung zur diskursiven Konstruktion österreichischer Identität/en im Sinne einer Longitudinalstudie fortzusetzen, zu aktualisieren, und auch den zugrundliegenden Forschungsansatz (Diskurs-historischer Ansatz, DHA) weiterzuentwickeln. Zum einen stellt 2015 abermals ein wichtiges Jubiläumsjahr für Österreich dar (u.a. 20 Jahre EU-Beitritt, 70 Jahre Unabhängigkeitserklärung, 60 Jahre Staatsvertrag). Zum anderen kann das Projektteam die Gelegenheit nutzen, Veränderungen der diskursiven Konstruktion österreichischer Identität/en über 20 Jahre hinweg aufzuzeigen.

Wir greifen dabei nicht nur auf umfangreiche Vorstudien zurück, die um 1995 und 2005 durchgeführt wurden, sondern setzen auch neue thematische Schwerpunkte: Zu den fünf Bereichen der bisherigen Projekte – die sprachliche Konstruktion des Homo Austriacus, einer gemeinsamen Vergangenheit, Kultur, politischen Gegenwart und Zukunft sowie eines „nationalen Körpers“ –, die in diesem Projekt weitergeführt werden sollen, kommen die folgenden Schwerpunkte hinzu: (1) der komplexe Zusammenhang zwischen der Konstruktion nationaler Identität, diskursiven und legistischen Aspekten von Staatsbürgerschaft und Einbürgerung einerseits und Migration sowie gesellschaftlicher Diversität andererseits; (2) kultur- und sprachnationale Elemente in der diskursiven Konstruktion nationaler Identität, insbesondere die Re/Entnationalisierung der Sprache; (3) die mediale Inszenierung menschlicher Körper am Beispiel der Konstruktionen eines nationalen Körpers; (4) die Rolle von Web 2.0 und Social Media in der Konstruktion nationaler Identität.

Übergeordnetes Ziel des Projekts ist es, im Sinne einer Longitudinal-Studie die Entwicklung der diskursiven Konstruktion österreichischer Identität/en nachzuzeichnen und dabei zu klären, ob und in welcher Form die bisher festgestellten Diskurse (Gleichheit, Differenz etc.) fortbestehen und durch neue ergänzt oder verdrängt werden.

Projektleitung: Ruth Wodak und Rudolf de Cillia
Projektteam: Markus Rheindorf und Sabine Lehner
Finanzierung: FWF
Laufzeit: Jänner 2015 – Dezember 2017

Divergenzen zwischen Form und Bedeutung in vergleichender Perspektive


Das unerwartete Vorherrschen grammatikalischer Ähnlichkeiten zwischen unverwandten Sprachen stellt eines der markantesten Merkmale der menschlichen Sprache dar. Die Untersuchung dieser Ähnlichkeiten und ihren Wechselwirkungen hat das Potenzial, den universellen Kern der Grammatik der menschlichen Sprache ins Blickfeld zu rücken und infolgedessen den Grundriss des menschlichen Sprachvermögens zu erleuchten. Dieses Forschungsvorhaben trägt durch die Untersuchung einer Reihe semantischer Ähnlichkeiten zwischen englischen und arabischen Verbalphrasen und ihren adjektivischen Derivaten (‚Partizipien’) zu diesem Ziel bei. Ähnliche semantische Merkmale werden in diesen zwei Sprachen zum Teil in verschiedenen morphologischen und syntaktischen Formen ausgedrückt. Die Untersuchung dieser Abweichungen in der morphosyntaktischen Form ähnlicher semantischer Strukturen erlaubt uns, die wesentlichen von den zufälligen Zusammenhängen zwischen Form und Bedeutung in den zwei Sprachen zu unterscheiden, wie auch potenzielle Universalien in diesem Bereich zu isolieren.

Projektleitung: Peter Hallman
Finanzierung: FWF
Laufzeit: Dezember 2014 - November 2017

"Kommunikative Professionalisierung" in der Flüchtlingshilfe

Eine ethnographische Pilotstudie zu Bedarfen, Positionierungen und Praktiken in einem Wiener Projekt

Im Mittelpunkt dieses explorativen Forschungsprojekts steht eine der derzeit drängendsten Fragen der Sozialen Arbeit: die ›Professionalisierung‹ der Hilfsleistungen für geflüchtete Personen. Das Projekt exploriert in einer Wiener Beratungsstelle ethnographisch, was ›Professionalität‹ (die hier handlungstheoretisch als [auch] kommunikative Handlungsfähigkeit und -potenz verstanden wird) für die in diesem Feld beteiligten Akteur*innen bedeutet, wie man versucht, sie kommunikativ herzustellen bzw. zu sichern, wie sie von den verschiedenen involvierten Personen mit diversen sozialen Hintergründen rezipiert wird und wo in diesem Zusammenhang (insbesondere sprach- und kommunikationsbezogene) Probleme gesehen werden bzw. Konflikte entstehen.

Ziel des Projekts ist eine Systematisierung und Problematisierung empirischer Daten, die während einer intensiven Begleitung der Arbeitsabläufe in der Beratungsstelle erhoben werden. Damit sollen die Ergebnisse der Untersuchungen im Rahmen dieses Projekts Problemfelder und Aufgaben identifizieren und eine Basis für eine weitere wissenschaftliche Auseinandersetzung mit dem Feld in Form möglichst präzise beschriebener Forschungsdesiderata liefern.

Projektleitung: Jürgen Spitzmüller und Brigitta Busch
Projektmitarbeiter: Jonas Hassemer
Finanzierung: Kulturabteilung der Stadt Wien
Laufzeit: November 2016 – März 2017

Eine Gesamtedition der tocharischen Handschriften


Die Seidenstraße hat als Transferroute nicht nur für Waren, sondern auch für Ideen und Sprachen eine Vielzahl von Kulturen hervorgebracht. Tocharisch ist eine von vielen einst entlang dieser Verbindungsroute gesprochenen Sprachen bzw. Sprachgruppen, die in Zusammenhang mit der Ausbreitung des Buddhismus in der Mitte des 1. Jahrtausends nach Christus einer kulturellen Blüte Ausdruck verliehen, heute aber ausgestorben sind. Es handelt sich dabei um einen eigenen Zweig der sogenannten indogermanischen Sprachfamilie; demgemäß ist Tocharisch beispielsweise mit den romanischen und germanischen Sprachen verwandt. Das spezifische Klima der Taklamakan-Wüste hat es ermöglicht, dass viele in Tocharisch abgefasste Schriftstücke mehr als 1500 Jahre hindurch vor dem Zerfall bewahrt worden sind; durch die Entschlüsselung jener Tausende von solchen schriftlichen Dokumenten, die hauptsächlich mit den großen Turfanexpeditionen zu Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts in europäische Museen bzw. auch nach Japan gelangt sind, lassen sich wesentliche Einblicke in die Kultur der tocharischsprachigen Menschen gewinnen. Konkret handelt es sich bei diesen Textzeugnissen um buddhistische religiöse Literatur einerseits und um Dokumente des Alltagslebens wie einen Liebesbrief andererseits. Der Großteil der Texte liegt bis heute allerdings noch immer nur in den Archiven der Museen und ist nur einem sehr kleinen Fachpublikum zugänglich bzw. verständlich. Ziel des Projekts ist es, alle tocharischen Texte als Foto sowie auch in Umschrift und Übersetzung mit jeweils einem sprach- und einem kulturwissenschaftlichen Kommentar versehen im Internet verfügbar zu machen. Auf diese Weise könnten gleich mehrere Forschungslücken geschlossen werden, solche in Bezug auf die Ausbreitung des Buddhismus vom indischen Raum aus bis nach China, die spezifische Kultur des östlichen Teils der Seidenstraße und die Geschichte, ja auch Vorgeschichte der indogermanischen Sprachfamilie.

Projektleitung: Melanie Malzahn
MitarbeiterIn: Hannes Fellner, Bernhard Koller
Laufzeit: Februar 2011 - Jänner 2017

Thesaurus Inscriptionum Raeticarum


The term ‘Raetic’ refers to some 230 inscriptions found in Northern Italy, the Austrian federal state of Tirol, the Swiss canton of Grisons, and the South of the German federal state of Bavaria. These inscriptions are roughly dated between the 6th and the 1st centuries BC and are the only remains of Raetic, a non-Indo-European language that we now know to be related to Etruscan. Despite various efforts in the past, the documentation of the Raetic inscriptions is still inadequate, and our attempts at interpreting the inscriptions are still in their infancy. The aim of the project is a comprehensive collection, display and linguistic analysis of the Raetic inscriptions in the form of an online database of the MediaWiki type. The result will be a web-based interactive platform for displaying, storing and referring to the collected material.

The project comprises the following tasks:

  1. Collecting all Raetic inscriptions hitherto known, including those of doubtful status.
  2. Examining the original inscriptions, and documenting them, including photos, drawings and, if necessary, laser scans.
  3. Collecting and examining the secondary literature concerning both the individual inscriptions, and Raetic language, script, archaeology, and history in general.
  4. Creating an online interactive database capable of displaying the inscriptions in an online corpus, with all aspects of the inscriptions (linguistic, archaeological, and graphematic data) documented exhaustively, in the best possible way.

This project is a follow-up task to Lexicon Leponticum, an FWF-funded project at the Vienna Linguistics Department, and constitutes the next step towards a comprehensive online collection and edition of sources concerning the so-called North Italic scripts. In the course of the project, the employment of free open-source software for the online presentation of scientific content in the humanities will be further improved and refined. The project aspires to set new standards in applying Web 2.0 tools within linguistic studies, and encourage the adoption of such collaboration and communication tools like MediaWiki for scientific purposes.