Research group

The aim of the research group is to close research gaps regarding the use of personal, indefinite, and demonstrative pronouns in German, which are used to refer to present and absent individuals.
The focus is on the following questions, among others:

  • What routines and established patterns can be described diachronically and synchronically, and how can such routinizations be explained?
  • How is the use of pronouns related to the mediality and materiality of linguistic action?
  • To what extent can pronouns be described as solution strategies for different communicative problems, and to what extent do they contribute to the conceptualization of situations?
  • What aspects of establishing reference in terms of the parameters of genericity and specificity, definiteness and indefiniteness, exclusivity and inclusivity, as well as agentivity and non-agentivity, are influenced by the use of pronouns?

The research group consists of seven projects that are distributed across three university locations. The research program combines the perspectives of interactional and historical linguistics within the framework of a usage-based theory formation:

  1. Susanne Günthner/Wolfgang Imo (Münster/Hamburg): Practices of referring to persons: uses of pronouns in oncological medical interactions
  2. Antje Dammel (Münster): Referential practice in transition: the pronoun "man" in the diachrony of German
  3. Jens Lanwer (Münster): Pronouns as a constructional network: usage-based analyses of practices of referring to persons in spoken interactions
  4. Wolfgang Imo (Hamburg): Person-referring pronouns in dramatic works: interactional and dramaturgical functions as well as historical change from the Baroque and Enlightenment periods to Sturm and Drang and the Classical period
  5. Irina Mostovaia (Hamburg): Pronouns as a constructional network: a usage-based analysis of practices of referring to persons in written interactions
  6. Karola Pitsch (Duisburg-Essen): Multimodality of person reference: Pronominal person reference in emergency medical and fire drills
  7. Maximilian Krug (Duisburg-Essen): Pronominal person-reference in letters to the editor in the GDR: communicative functions of personal, indefinite, and possessive pronouns in the context of indexing social groups in an authoritarian system

Two to four projects are located at each project site. At all sites, the combination of projects combines a synchronic with a diachronic perspective.

German Research Foundation (DFG) - Project number 457855466