Department of Linguistics and Philology


The Linguistics group at Uppsala University has a broad research profile. It studies phonetics, morphology, syntax, semantics and discourse in relation to a variety of languages.

Important research themes are:

  • Language documentation, which focuses on previously undescribed and endangered languages of South Asia, Africa and Australia, highlighting themes like language contact and language change, dialect and language variation, and typologically oriented studies
  • Naturalistic and experimental studies of child and adult (second) language learners
  • Language and social interaction, conversational analysis.

Linguistics has participated in joint work with the units of Iranian and Turkic languages concerning typological work. Another interdisciplinary activity is cooperation with Speech and Language Pathology at the Faculty of Medicine.

Doctoral students projects

Ecology and structure of the Hadza language
Niklas Edenmyr

Acquisition of Arabic and Swedish in bilingual 4-7-years-olds
Rima Haddad

Exploring the development of L1 and L2 oral narrative ability of bilingual pre-school children in Sweden from a cross-linguistic perspective
Josefin Lindgren

A description of the Mbugwe language, Tanzania
Vera Wilhelmsen

Normal och avvikande språkutveckling hos flerspråkiga arabisk-svensktalande barn i Sverige
Linnéa Öberg

Typical and atypical language development in bilingual Turkish-Swedish preschool children
Buket Öztekin


Research Projects

Areal linguistics

Digital areal linguistics: a lexical view of the Himalayan microarea
This project is financed by the Swedish Research Council. The goal of this project is to create a database of comparable lexical items in a number of representative South Asian languages, with a focus on the Himalayan region in India and to use this database for investigating the Himalayas as a linguistic area. The project is a collaboration between the University of Gothenburg, Uppsala University and the Max Planck Institute (MPI Leipzig, Germany). Researcher: Anju Saxena.

Evolution of Semantic Systems

Evolution of Semantic Systems
An interdisciplinary collaboration studying how meanings vary over space and change over time. It has been supported by the Max Planck Society, through the Max Planck Research Group Evolutionary Processes in Language and Culture (2009-2014). The principle investigators are Michael Dunn (Uppsala University), Asifa Majid (Radboud University Nijmegen) and Fiona Jordan(University of Bristol). See the project webpage.

Language Acquisition and Learning

Kobalt-DaF: Annotation and analysis of argumentative learner texts: Converging approaches to a written corpus of German as a foreign language
This German-Swedish research network is building an annotated learner corpus and investigates grammatical and discourse-pragmatic development in Swedish, Russian and Chinese adult learners of German as a foreign language. Ute Bohnacker, in collaboration with researchers at the Universities of Berlin, Hamburg, Jena, Konstanz, Uppsala, Stuttgart and Växjö, 2011-2014, funded by the German Research Council (DFG) [project link].

Language impairment or typical language development? Developing methods for linguistic assessment of bilingual children in Sweden
This project is funded by the Swedish Research Council. The project investigates typical and atypical language development in bilingual pre-schoolers, focusing on Turkish-Swedish and Arabic-Swedish, with a view to developing reliable methods for the assessment of language abilities and intervention in bilingual children in Sweden. This is vital for the child’s future, as untreated language impairment often leads to dyslexia and learning difficulties in school. The principal investigator is Ute Bohnacker (2014-2019).

Multilingual children’s narrative skills
A research initiative that explores the development of oral narrative skills in 4-9-year-old children in different language settings, using the Multilingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives (MAIN). An outcome of COST Action IS0804 Working Group 2 “Narrative and Discourse”, MAIN has been developed on the basis of extensive piloting for different languages and language combinations. In Sweden, Ute Bohnacker is responsible for research in this area.

Language Documentation

Multimedia and GIS supported language documentation of the Himalayas with the focus on ethno-biological terms
This project is financed by the SIDA/Swedish Research Council. The project aims to document some least documented languages of the Himachal Pradesh region in India. The main international collaborating project partner in this project is the Himachal Pradesh University (India). Researcher: Anju Saxena.

Language and Social interaction

Language and Ageing
An interdisciplinary research initiative that explores interaction between older people and their interlocutors in different settings. Anna Lindström, professor in Language and Social Interaction, is responsible for developing the research in this area at Uppsala University [project link].

Sociolinguistics and Bantu linguistics

Swahili (and Bantu Linguistics)
Swahili has been studied from a sociolinguistic point of view focussing on the history, development, spread and status of Swahili and the language situation in general in Africa, as well as the history, spread and status of Arabic in East Africa, and the influence of Arabic on Swahili.

The Teaching of Grammar and Metalinguistic Concepts

The teaching and knowledge of grammar and metalinguistics is studied with a current focus on the Swedish compulsory school and the knowledge possessed by beginning undergraduates and new teachers. Researcher: Therese Lindström Tiedemann

Completed projects