Research

Research Interests
Sociolinguistics
Writing systems
Visual communication
Text design
Discourse analysis
Language attitudes/​language ideologies
Folk Linguistics
Concluded Projects
Pilot StudyCommunicative Professionalization in the context of refugee aid. An ethnographic pilot study on requirements, positionings and practices in a Viennese organization
This project deals with one of the most crucial questions of current social work: the professionalization of assistance to refugees. The project sets out to explore ethnographically, in the context of a Viennese counselling center, what professional(ism), regarded here as an interpretive phenomenon, means to the actors in the field, how they try to establish or maintain it by communicative means, how it is perceived by the diverse persons involved, and where the actors locate (particularly linguistic or communicative) problems and/or conflicts.
The pilot study basically attempts to systematize and problematize empirical data that are elicited in the context of a participatory observation over the course of several months, and derives detailed research questions from that. Thus, the study shall pave ground to future, more in-depth research projects.
Project leadJürgen Spitzmüller, Brigitta Busch
Team membersJonas Hassemer
Financial supportVienna Chamber of Labour, Cultural Department of the City of Vienna
TermNovember 2016 – March 2017
Final report (German)
[Final report (German): <http://www.ds.uzh.ch/spitzmueller/docs/Abschlussbericht_Kommunikative Professionalisierung.pdf>].
Qualification Projects
Postdoc Project (Habilitation)
Title Graphic variation as a social practice. A sociolinguistic theory of scriptal visibility.
Abstract The project deals with the social functions of graphic-scriptal variation (spelling, graphetics, typography). On the one hand, it aims to widen the scope of multimodality research, which is currently mainly based on semiotic and stylistic concepts, by an interpretive-sociolinguistic approach to multimodality. On the other hand, the project aims to widen the focus of sociolinguistics itself, which mainly focuses on speech and thus is suffering from a spoken language bias. The project thus follows recent calls for a sociolinguistics of writing, but extends this topic from spelling to multimodal issues.
The Habilitation thesis discusses theoretical implications of a turn of linguistics towards scriptal visuality and materiality, it presents methodical and conceptual proposals for a sociolinguistic analysis of graphic phenomena, and it exemplifies graphic variation as a social practice, amongst others, by analyses of multimodal processes of identity construction, ideology brokerage, and genre constitution.
Status Finished (thesis submitted to the Faculty of Arts of the University of Zurich in March 2012; accepted in November 2012; published in September 2013 by De Gruyter, Berlin).
Publication
Ph.D. Thesis
Title Metasprachdiskurse. Einstellungen zu Anglizismen und ihre wissenschaftliche Rezeption. [Metalanguage Discourses. Attitudes towards Anglicisms and their linguistic reception]
Supervisor Prof. Dr. Jürgen Schiewe (Freiburg i.Br., currently Greifswald)
Abstract The thesis investigates the reasons for the diverging attitudes towards language change in science and public, focussing on the discourse on Anglicisms in the timeframe of 1990 to 2001. The analysis is based on a corpus that consists of diverse mass-media documents (texts from newspapers, magazines as well as radio and TV broadcasts) and of linguistic publications on the topic. It uses a discourse analytical approach that reconstructs the central folklinguistic and linguistic concepts by means of an analysis of the metalanguage (metaphors, metalinguistic expressions) and of the argumentative patterns (topoi).
Status Finished (submitted in September 2003 to the Faculty of Philology of the University of Freiburg; accepted in February 2004 [rated summa cum laude]; published in June 2005 by De Gruyter, Berlin).
Publication
Project Cooperations
As of January 2016 Cooperating partner in the SNF research project What's up, Switzerland? Language, Individuals, Ideologies in Mobile Messaging, Universities of Zurich, Neuchâtel, Bern, Leipzig (project director: Elisabeth Stark).
Project web site
As of November 2014 Scientific partner in the domain multimodality in the Sparkling Science Project My Literacies. Approaches to literacies in multimodal and multilingual contexts – The view of the child, University of Vienna, Department of Linguistics (project director: Nadja Kerschhofer-Puhalo).
Project web site
April 2006 to March 2009 Member of the external board of the JSPS research project Contrastive German/Japanese media linguistics (project directors: Manabu Watanabe/​Noriko Okamoto/​Masahiko Koga, Tokyo).