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Multilingualism in the New and Old World



Prof. Aria Adli

Professor of Linguistics (UoC)

Aria Adli specializes on grammatical variation. He tries to explain why certain grammatical forms (such as word order or pronouns) are preferred or used more frequently than others by speakers. He does so by taking into account language-internal as well as language-external factors. With regard to language-internal factors, he works on the syntax of a sentence in its speech context and on information structure. With regard to language-external factors, his research focuses on the role of social stratification, lifestyle according to Bourdieu, and register. His approach builds on language comparison (with emphasis on French, Spanish, Catalan, and Persian) and on cross-cultural analysis. His empirical methods include field work, corpus analysis, acceptability judgments, statistics, and computer simulations.

Prof. Gregory Guy

Professor of Linguistics (NYU)

Phonology, historical linguistics, Romance linguistics, pidgin and creole studies, phonetics, sociolinguistics and sociolinguistic universals.

Gregory Guy specializes in sociolinguistics, historical linguistics, phonetics and phonology. In sociolinguistics he has worked extensively on language variation and change, with emphasis on variation and linguistic theory, social aspects of variation and change and the social and linguistic distribution of language change in progress, and quantitative research methodology (the statistical modelling of variability). His current research focuses on the representation of language variation in linguistic theory. Other interests include phonological and syntactic variables in English, Portuguese and Spanish, historical linguistics, Romance linguistics (his areas of language specialization include English, Portuguese and Spanish), phonological theory, pidgin and creole studies, phonetics, and sociolinguistic universals.

Key facts University of Cologne (UoC) and New York University (NYU)
founded in 1388 (closed in 1798, re-established in 1919) founded in 1831
>51.000 students >50.000 students
6 faculties 19 schools and colleges
city university neighbouring the downtown area of Cologne located in Manhattan in New York City


A chat with Prof. Dr. Aria Adli (UoC) and Prof. Gregory Guy (NYU)


"Language and Society"

Course description UoC:

This course is taking place in cooperation with the Department of Linguistics of the New York University (NYU) and part of a pilot project on international digital mobility. Half of the course participants are students of the NYU, the other half are students of the University of Cologne. Language of instruction is English. 

How is it possible to do justice to the fact, that communication does require a common system on the one hand, yet, on the other hand, that all individuals are unique, have different identities and and respectively use different versions of a language. How is social organisation represented in language and how do speakers use language to create identity and to represent their relationships among each other?

We will analyze factors of diversity within and among speaker communities and discuss language change, the emergence of different dialects und languages, multilingualism, as well as the differentiation of varieties and registers. Linguistic conformity will be viewed in the context of social norms, institutions and power dynamics.

Study requirements demand all students to keep a sociolinguistic journal and work independently on a study project (either on the topic of multilingualism in Cologne or a specific socio-linguistic variable). Due to the cooperative learning arrangement with the NYU, presence is mandatory.


Students' voices: Alicia, UoC


Insights into the current teaching situation at the UoC