Welcome to my website!

I have been a full professor for German Linguistics at LMU Munich since September 2014. I study the grammatical-structural regularities of German, its dialects and historical stages. I am interested in how these patterns change over time, and how all that can be explained. I regard German Linguistics as an area of specialization within General Linguistics. On the basis of our special expertise on German and all its varieties we try to contribute to solving more fundamental, general questions of linguistics.

Contact: LMU München, Institut für Deutsche Philologie, Schellingstraße 3 Rückgebäude, office 410, 80799 München, Germany
(seiler THESIGN lmu DOT de)

Office hours during the summer semester 2019:
Wednesday 11:15-12:00
Please email Ms Röthinger (buero DOT seiler THESIGN germanistik DOT uni-muenchen DOT de) for an appointment.


1 Aug 2019: I am leaving LMU Munich as of 1 August 2019. My new employer is the University of Zurich (German department). I am grateful to my Munich students and colleagues for the fantastic past five years, and I hope we will meet again soon!

12 Dec 2018: Guest lecture at the University of Bielefeld on "Amish Shwitzer as a mixed language with closely related parents" (invited by Michael Rießler)

19 Nov 2018: My postdoc Simon Pröll has been awarded a fellowship as Junior Researcher in Residence at the Munich Center for Advaced Studies. Congratulations!

7 Nov 2018: Tabea Reiner's thesis on "Existiert ein Infinitiv Posterior im Gegenwartsdeutschen?" has concordantly been accepted as a habilitation thesis by the faculty council. Congratulations!

29 Aug - 1 Sept 2018: The committee of the SLE Conference 2018 has accepted our joint proposal (together with Livio Gaeta, U Turin) for a workshop on "A specter is haunting Europe: the Alps as a linguistic area?". Abstracts can be submitted until 15 Jan 2018. Please follow the SLE submission guidelines. The goal of the workshop is to discuss the question as to what extent long-standing contact between Germanic, Romance, and Slavic has caused structural convergence between only loosely related Alpine languages/dialects.

2-6 July 2018: Our joint proposal (together with Dankmar Enke, LMU München, and Roland Mühlenbernd, U Tübingen) for a workshop on "Stability and Instability in Grammar" has been accepted by the organizers of the 20th International Congress of Linguists (Cape Town)! The workshop aims at bringing together linguistic typology and historical linguistics. It will discuss the question as to what extent it is typologically frequent (or rare, respectively) structures that are diachronically stable (or unstable, respectively). You'll find the call for abstracts from linguistlist.org here (deadline: 31 Aug 2017) and the workshop website here.

25 May 2018: In the context of my seminar on "Pennsylvaniadeutsch, Hutterisch, Plautdietsch: Deutsche Sprachinseln in Nordamerika" (Pennsylvania Dutch, Hutterite, Plautdietsch: German linguistic islands in North America) we composed a questionnaire and sent it now to speakers of the three varieties. We are very curious about the results!

7 April 2018: Presentation "The Shwitzer language of Adams County (Indiana) as a laboratory for convergence and divergence" at the Berkeley Germanic Linguistics Roundtable.

4 April 2018: Presentation "On the rise of underspecification in tense systems" (together with Thilo Weber) at the workshop "Loss of functional motivation in language change" (UC Berkeley).

4-5 April 2018: Our joint proposal (together with Dankmar Enke, Andrew Garrett, Larry Hyman, Thilo Weber) for a workshop on "Loss of functional motivation in language change" (to be held at UC Berkeley) has been accepted by the LMU-UCB Research in the Humanities funding bodies. The workshop will discuss case studies from phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics, where extragrammatical motivations for a regularity are lost but the regularity nonetheless persists. This may give rise to purely formal patterns that are difficult to explain (synchronically) in terms of their function.

27 Jan 2018: Excursion to Wall (Miesbach district) in Upper Bavaria with my students from the seminar "Dialektsyntax" (co-organized with Thilo Weber). We interviewed seven speakers of the local dialect on topics such as relative clauses, extraction, syntax of pronouns, complementizer agreement, clitic doubling, verb second in subordinate clauses, negation and verb clusters. Many thanks to all speakers and the students for making this day such a success!

9 Dec 2017: Opening lecture on "Is language change language improvement?" at the workshop "Current issues of of Preference Theory. A symposium on the occasion of Theo Vennemann's 80th birthday".

27 Nov 2017: Invited lecture at the university of Tübingen on "Dialects as a testing ground for theories of language change: closing the gap in a typology of mixed languages" (invited by Michael Franke)

4 Nov 2017: Invited lecture at SARDIS 2017 on "Eine neue Sprache entsteht: Zur aktuellen Entwicklung des amischen Shwitzer in Indiana (USA)" (invited by Augustin Speyer)

1 Nov 2017: Celia Luterbacher has published an article at Swissinfo, where she discusses American heritage languages spoken by descendants of Swiss immigrants.

11-13 Oct 2017: Presentation "Alemannisch im Kontakt: Konvergenz und Divergenz in der Sprachinsel des ‘Shwitzer’ (Indiana, USA)", 19. Arbeitstagung zur alemannischen Dialektologie, University of Freiburg (Germany)

11 Sept 2017: Presentation "On the Emergence of Grammar-Lexicon Mixed Languages: The Case of Amish Shwitzer", SLE 2017, University of Zurich

31 July - 4 Aug 2017: Presentation "Borrowing a grammar without speaking the language? The case of Amish Shwitzer", workshop "New historical perspectives on non-dominant speakers as agents of contact-induced language change", ICHL 23, University of Texas San Antonio

31 July - 4 Aug 2017: Presentation "The development of Standard Average European: evidence from varieties of German", ICHL 23, University of Texas San Antonio

7 July 2017: Invited lecture at the University of Cologne on "Syntaktisierung als nutzloser Sprachwandel" (invited by Agnes Jäger)

9 June 2017: Invited lecture by Kristin Hanson (UC Berkeley) on Alt Rhythms, funded by LMU-UCB Research in the Humanities (12:15-2pm, Schellingstr. 3/back premises, 309)

25-28 May 2017: Workshop Language Change for the Worse", LMU Munich, together with Larry Hyman (UC Berkeley) and Johanna Nichols (UC Berkeley), funded by LMU-UCB Research in the Humanities

26 May 2017: Opening lecture on "Language change for the worse: introductory remarks" at the Workshop "Language Change for the Worse" (see above)

May 2017: Successful nomination of Ashwini Deo (Ohio State University) for a Short-term-Visiting Fellowship at the Munich Center of Advanced Studies

April 2017: Field research with (descendants of) Swiss immigrants in Wisconsin and Indiana

1 Apr 2017: Invited lecture on "Language structure as a mirror of social structure? The case of the Shwitzer language of Adams County, IN", workshop "People of Faith, Voices of Tradition: Germanic Heritage Languages among Christians and Jews", Max-Kade-Institute, University of Wisconsin (invited by Mark Louden)

18 March 2017: Manuscript submitted on "Wenn Dialekte Sprachen sind, dann ist Dialektkontakt Sprachkontakt: Zum 'Shwitzer' der Amischen in Adams County (Indiana)" (currently under review)

1 Feb 2017: Invited lecture at the University of Bamberg on "Aktuelle Entwicklungen der Zwillingssprachinsel des 'Shwitzer' in Indiana (USA)" (invited by Stefanie Stricker)

23 Jan 2017: Manuscript submitted on "Synchrony and diachrony: two outdated dimensions?" (currently under review)

6 Dec 2016: Invited lecture at the University of Zurich on "Eine neue Sprache entsteht: Aktuelle Entwicklungen in der Sprachinsel des ‘Shwitzer’ (Indiana, USA) zwischen Isolation und Kontakt" (invited by Elvira Glaser and Michele Loporcaro)

30 Nov 2016: My postdoc Raffaela Baechler has been awarded an 18-month research grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation for her project "Exaptation in the nominal inflection of Early Middle English dialects" (University of Edinburgh, faculty sponsor: Bettelou Los). Congratulations!

28-29 Oct 2016: Retreat meeting on the topic of "Origins of Standard-Average-European" (together with Raffaela Baechler, Bardhyl Demiraj, Andreas Dufter, Olav Hackstein, Ursula Lenker, Daniela Marzo, Oliver Schallert)

Winter semester 2016/17: After a long phase of planning, we (together with Elisabeth Leiss and Oliver Schallert) put into practice the newly designed introductory module for German linguistics. Many thanks for their invaluable help to Nicholas Catasso, dankmar Enke, Veronika Gacia, Maurice Hüttemann, Ann-Marie Moser, Kateryna Nakonechna, Simon Pröll, David Restle, Marcel Schellong, Wolfgang Schindler, Christiane Wanzeck, Thilo Weber!

26 Sept 2016: Successful defense of my PhD candidate Thilo Weber. Congratulations!

15.9.2016: The website of the SINA group is online. "SINA" means: Swiss Islands in North America.

14 Sept 2016: Invited plenary lecture "Synchronie et diachronie -- des dimensions révolues?", DIA-IV-Zürich (abstract)

1 Sept 2016: Presentation "Variation as a window to the past: On the origins of Standard Average European", 49th SLE Conference, Naples (abstract)

July 2016: Our co-edited volume (together with Raffaela Baechler) on "Complexity, Isolation, and Variation" has been published at de Gruyter.

23.5.2016: Successful thesis defense of my PhD candidate Raffaela Baechler. Congratulations!

15.4.2016 Presentation "Wenn Dialekte Sprachen sind, dann ist Dialektkontakt Sprachkontakt", workshop "Sprachkontaktforschung -- explanativ", University of Augsburg (abstract)

April 2016: Field trip to Adams County, Indiana, interviews with Amish and Mennonite speakers of the Shwitzer language (click here for an article by Kevin Williams on the language situation there)

1 April 2016 Presentation "Stability and change in German case systems", Berkeley Germanic Linguistics Roundtable (abstract)

Copyright © 2016 Guido Seiler