Prof. Dr. Adli
Chat with Prof. Dr. Adli. New York, Strasbourg, Berlin and back to Cologne. Every day Professor Adli investigates languages and, for that reason, occasionally speaks in gestures. We ask the Cologne-born head of the University of Cologne’s Sociolinguistic Lab with Iranian roots three questions.
CCB: Professor Adli, you’re a linguistics researcher – what is it you study exactly?
Prof. Dr. Adli: We study the link between language and lifestyle. Language is a key element of lifestyle. We look closely at the linguistic means people use when they communicate and at the other lifestyle indicators they employ in their daily lives. By doing so we are able to derive knowledge systematically about which groups are setting new linguistic trends and which new expressions are picked up on and absorbed by the population at large.
Professor Adli, there’s been a recent proposal for a special area of research, “prominence in language”. What do you understand “prominence in language to mean”?
The University of Cologne has truly lived up to its reputation for excellency – something that is witnessed by the fact that linguists have been granted a collaborative research centre. This represents one largest funding programmes offered by the German DFG funding agency. „Prominence in Speech“ is the name we give to research intended to highlight the basic principles in a language that help us to communicate as both speakers and listeners in an efficient and structured way, in order to understand important information being conveyed. Our research involves 30 postdoctoral researchers and doctoral students as well as 16 faculty members. We look at a wide range of languages and phenomena, including everything from sentence melody to text structure.
You once said that Cologne was a very interesting city for your research, why?
Cologne is very international. That’s extremely enriching. We are fortunate in that the city is home to a variety of lifestyles, language and linguistic styles – something that makes it really dynamic. Cologne is also very well established as a city of science, has a traditional university as well as a high density of universities and research centres. Other countries are just a stone’s throw away. You can be in Paris by train in under half a day or in Brussels in half that time. This makes working with colleagues there very easy indeed. Cologne’s a research hub – something that increases the city’s appeal considerably.
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