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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

Principal Investigator A03, B05, C09 and INF

Office: Allg. Sprachwissenschaft, Meister-Ekkehart-Straße 7
E-mail: sprachwissenschaft(at)
Phone: (+49) 221 470-2323
Web: Prof. Dr. Nikolaus P. Himmelmann


Dr. Sonja Riesberg

Principal Investigator B05

E-mail: sonja.riesberg(at)
Web: Dr. Sonja Riesberg


Svenja Bonmann

Postdoc B05

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


Maria Bardají i Farré

Researcher, associated with B05

Office: SFB, Luxemburger Str. 299, room 2.10
E-mail: mbardaj1(at)
Phone: (+49) 221 470-89906
Web: Maria Bardají i Farré


Katharina Gayler

Doctoral student B05

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


Marc Heinrich

Student assistant B05

Office: SFB, Luxemburger Str. 299, room 2.12
E-mail: marc.heinrich(at)


Jonathan Reich

Student assistant B05

E-Mail: jreich8(at)


To appear

  • Himmelmann, Nikolaus P. & Sonja Riesberg. To appear. Expressions of directed caused accompanied motion events in Totoli, a Western Austronesian language of Indonesia. In Anna Margetts, Birgit Hellwig & Sonja Riesberg (eds.), Caused accompanied motion: Bringing and taking events in a cross-linguistic perspective. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
  • 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.
  • Primus, Beatrice, Franziska Kretzschmar, Nikolaus P. Himmelmann & Klaus von Heusinger. To appear. Relating agent prominence to discourse prominece: Do-clefts in German. Linguistics.
  • Riesberg, Sonja. To appear. The expression of directed CAM events in Yali, a non-Austronesian language of New Guinea. In Anna Margetts, Birgit Hellwig & Sonja Riesberg (eds.), Caused accompanied motion: Bringing and taking events in a cross-linguistic perspective. Amsterdam: Benjamins.






  • 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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