What we do
Given that there are several thousand different languages, it is a striking fact that all of them share so many properties irrespective of their historical and socio-cultural embedding. Equally puzzling is the enormous diversity among them. How could it be? There is a lot of emerging interdisciplinary evidence supporting the idea that the commonalities are due to a human-specific genetic component. In our work we would like to better understand the mechanisms underlying variation in language. While comparing and analysing the structures of different languages, we hope to be able to go one step further beyond the mere description of “visible” properties of languages and identify the abstract “invisible” patterns in language in general.
The facts known from language acquisition seem to suggest that underlying mechanisms in language must be very simple. Otherwise we could not explain how small children are able to acquire any language they are exposed to so quickly and effortlessly. Given this, what we look for is simplicity and beauty in language.