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B05 - Prominence related structures in symmetrical voice systems and Papuan languages

Symmetrical voice systems provide a major challenge for the claim that prominence universally plays a central role at the interface between syntax and semantics, because such systems always allow for at least two equally basic transitive constructions. The project investigates whether there is nevertheless evidence for the influence of prominence relations in the organization of grammatical structures in these languages. A special focus is on the interplay between episode structure and clause structure, an area where Papuan languages promise to provide important pieces of evidence.

See list of publications


Prof. Dr. Nikolaus P. Himmelmann

Prof. Dr. Nikolaus P. Himmelmann

Principal Investigator A03, B05, C09 und INF

Office: Allg. Sprachwissenschaft, Meister-Ekkehart-Straße 7
E-Mail: sprachwissenschaft(at)
Phone: (+49) 221 470-2323
Dr. Sonja Riesberg

Dr. Sonja Riesberg

Principal Investigator B05

E-Mail: sonja.riesberg(at)
Maria Bardají i Farré

Maria Bardají i Farré

Postdoc B05

Office: SFB, Luxemburger Str. 299, room 2.10
E-Mail: mbardaj1(at)
Phone: (+49) 221 470-89906
Katharina Gayler

Katharina Gayler

Doctoral student B05

Office: SFB, Luxemburger Str. 299, room 2.05
E-Mail: kgayler1(at)
Phone: (+49) 221 470-89910


To appear

  • Kroeger, Paul & Sonja Riesberg. To appear. Voice and transitivity. In Alexander Adelaar & Antoinette Schapper (eds.), The Oxford Guide to the Malayo-Polynesian languages of South East Asia. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


  • Kaland, Constantijn & Maria Bardají. 2023. Phonetic description of filled pauses as discourse markers in Totoli. In Radek Skarnitzl & Jan Volín (eds.), Proceedings of the 20th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, 3242–3246. Guarant International. pdf
  • Malcher, Kurt. 2023. Clefts. A cross-linguistic investigation. Universität zu Köln. Dissertation.







  • Himmelmann, Nikolaus P. 2017. Word classes. In Oxford Bibliographies in Linguistics
  • Reinöhl, Uta & Nikolaus P. Himmelmann. 2017. Renewal: A figure of speech or a process sui generis? Language 93(2). 381-413. pdf
  • Riesberg, Sonja. 2017. An introduction to the Yali-German dictionary with a short grammatical sketch. In Sonja Riesberg (ed.), Wörterbuch Yali (Angguruk) – Deutsch. Canberra: Asia-Pacific Linguistics. pdf
  • Riesberg, Sonja. 2017. Some observations on word order in western Austronesian symmetrical voice languages. In I Nengah Sudipa et al. (eds.), Proceedings of the 8th International Seminar on Austronesian and Non-Austronesian Languages and Literature in Indonesia. Denpasar: Udayana University Press. pdf

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