The Department of Comparative Linguistics is devoted to the comparative study of languages and language varieties in terms of diachronic processes and in terms of processing and acquisition. This involves not only the study of language change and reconstructions within specific regions and language families – especially in the Indo-European family – but also the exploration of the causes and mechanisms behind these historical and evolutionary processes. Research on processing focuses on sound signals and grammatical structures, with systematic attention to variation between individuals and between languages. Learning mechanisms are examined predominantly in first-language acquisition, likewise with an emphasis on variation within and between languages.
Instruction is offered by the department in the form of BA, MA and PhD programs in Comparative Linguistics, Evolutionary Linguistics, Descriptive Linguistics, Psycholinguistics and Indo-European Linguistics. Within General Linguistics, students can specialize in core grammar research, phonetics/phonology and psycholinguistics.
Founded on January 1, 2014, the department merged chairs in General Linguistics and in Indo-European Studies, the Phonetics Laboratory, the Phonogram Archive and the Psycholinguistics Research Unit.