The URPP Language and Space is dedicated to research on the fundamental connection of language and space on the basis of three key research topics: (1) Language in Space, (2) Space through Language, and (3) Space in Language.
- The topic Language in Space regroups the traditional disciplines of dialectology and areal typology in a comparative perspective. Research in these areas encompasses the study of the spread of linguistic features across geographical areas of different scales. Within the URPP Language and Space, research of Language in Space is pursued within the Research Group Areal Morphology (at a global scale), and in the Research Group Systems of Nominal Determination in Contact (SyNoDe) (at the dialectal scale). The establishment of linguistic areas is based on the variety of linguistic features that enable a spatial distribution of speakers according to their speech patterns (dialects, accents, etc.) and, thus, identification and distinction.
- The topic Space through Language is devoted to the verbal (and nonverbal) communication of spatial features and spatiality in general within individual discourse, tracing space back to the manifold ways in which it comes to be perceived among those being present in a face-to-face encounter. Research in the Research Group Accommodation and Social Categorization is concerned with the general phenomenon that individuals tend to adjust and fine-tune their communicative behavior according to what they perceive. The Research Group Interactional Spaces is concerned with spatial aspects of the communicative situation, the complex and spatially creative interplay of language, perception, movement and action.
- The third topic Space in Language focuses on the manifestation of spatial features and spatiality in general in the lexicon and in the grammar of natural languages. Research on this topic is carried out within the Research Group Spatial References, and, partly, within the Research Group Interactional Spaces. Linguists and geographers interact here in order to understand how people talk about space and what this may tell us about their spatial conceptualizations.
The URPP Language and Space approaches the relationships between language and space with cutting-edge technology, combining insights from dialectology, language typology, interactional linguistics, and Geographic Information Science (GIScience). Individual projects are currently being carried out by the five Research Groups and the Language and Space Lab with the three groups GIS (Geographic Information Science), Text, and Video. In addition, numerous doctoral positions, several postdoctoral positions, and one assistant professorship position were created and concrete sub-projects were initiated.