Universität Konstanz
Fachbereich Sprachwissenschaft
SFB 471 "Variation und Entwicklung im Lexikon"

Funding Period 1st of January 1997 - 31st of December 2008






Funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG)

Fundamental Assumptions:

The lexicon, as conceived of in this Sonderforschungsbereich, forms a central component of human cognition. The basic assumption is that the lexicon comprises everything that is mentally represented about stored linguistic forms. As such mental representations in the lexicon include interwoven phonetic, phonological, morphological, syntactic, semantic and pragmatic features to which all grammatical and cogitive processes have access. Thus, lexicon-as-representation is at heart about structural regularity, in particular languages and universally, especially insofar as it governs the interface of all grammatical subsystems.

Research Goals:

The common overall questions to be addressed by the member projects from their complementary angles are the following:

  • WHAT is internally represented (about meaning and form)?
  • HOW is it represented and accessed?

    Projects approach these issues from different points of view. Both sides of the coin, namely what is represented and how it is represented, are subject to variation and change, and the central questions addressed by all projects are:

  • How do representations vary across dialects, languages, linguistic families, areal and typological groups? And how do they vary, in a given language, at a given state of its evolution, along distinct layers of representation?
  • How do representations change in time?

    External and internal influences on change and variation are scrutinized across projects. The emphasis in one group of projects is on variation and on developments of representations of conceptual meaning and of grammatical form. At the same time they draw on the psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic expertise from those projects whose own focus is on the nature of mental and neural representation.

    Research on storing and accessing representations and on speech processing is at an unusual advantage within this Sonderforschungsbereich, being able to draw on more sophisticated expertise in linguistic variation and development than is customary in this flourishing field. Moreover, the cooperation with neurolinguistics gives the Sonderforschungsbereich a chance to inquire into the relationship between mental representations and their implementations in the brain.

  • last update: 12.02.2009
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