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Department of Comparative Language Science

Southeast Asia Lab (2014-2021)

Southeast Asia is home to five large language families: Sino-Tibetan, Austroasiatic, Tai-Kadai, Hmong-Mien, and Austronesian. Through extended and intensive contact and exchange, the languages of the area show convergence in most, if not all, linguistic domains, making the area a perfect field for studying language contact.

The Southeast Asia Lab, directed by Dr. Mathias Jenny, conducts research on different aspects of the languages of Southeast Asia and adjacent areas. Main foci of interest are language contact, historical linguistics, as well as descriptive accounts of under-described languages and varieties. The research of the SEA Lab has a strong focus on primary data collection in Thailand and Myanmar.

Researchers and students at the SEA Lab currently work on languages of the Sino-Tibetan, Austroasiatic, and Tai-Kadai families.

The SEA Lab has close links to Universities in Myanmar and Thailand (University of Mandalay, Yangon University of Foreign Languages, University of Chiang Mai).


  • The Greater Burma Zone
  • Verb-initiality in Austroasiatic 
  • Khasian corpora and lexica
  • Language contact in the Kachin area (PhD dissertation)
  • Rumai (Palaung) grammar (PhD dissertation)
  • Aspects of Rucing (Palaung) grammar (PhD dissertation)
  • Tedim Chin: Grammatical Relations (MA thesis)
  • Pa-O: Serial Verb Constructions (MA thesis)
  • Khmu: Causative constructions (MA thesis)

Major Publications