Dr. Manuel Widmer

My research focuses on the languages of the Himalayas (in particular Tibeto-Burman), and lies at the intersection of descriptive linguistics, historical linguistics, and typology. I am especially interested in (1) the grammatical description of little-studied Himalayan languages, (2) the history of the Himalayan linguistic area, (3) the diachronic and synchronic typology of epistemic grammatical categories (evidentiality, egophoricity, mirativity), and (4) quantitative methods in historical linguistics. 

From 2009 to 2010, I was a member of the project Comparative Dictionary of Tibetan Dialects at the Department of Linguistics at the University of Bern, and from 2010 to 2013, I worked as a teaching and research assistant at the same institution. During the academic year 2013/2014, I was a visiting PhD student at the Department of Linguistics at the University of Oregon and in 2015, I defended my PhD thesis (A grammar of Bunan) at the University of Bern (supervised by George van Driem and Scott DeLancey).

I joined the Department of Comparative Linguistics in 2015 to work in the project Hierarchical structure in noun phrases and compounds led by Balthasar Bickel and Paul Widmer in collaboration with Johanna Nichols. Since February 2016, I have been a member of the LiMiTS project, in the context of which I focus on morphological complexity in Tibeto-Burman languages. In the framework of these projects, I am involved in several research groups that use quantitative methods to explore and model the evolution of morphosyntactic phenomena in space and time.

Research interests

  • Descriptive linguistics
  • Historical linguistics
  • Typology
  • Quantitative methods
  • Epistemic grammatical categories (evidentiality, egophoricity, mirativity)
  • Languages of the Himalayas (Tibeto-Burman)