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You are here: FRIAS Fellows Fellows 2020/21 Dr. Martin Pfeiffer

Dr. Martin Pfeiffer

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
German Linguistics
Internal Junior Fellow
October 2020 - July 2021

Phone + 49 (0)761 203-97866


Martin Pfeiffer is an assistant professor (Akademischer Rat auf Zeit) at the Department of German Linguistics at the University of Freiburg. He is the principal investigator of the project “Exclamations in interaction: Formal, functional, and visual aspects”, funded by a Postdoctoral Fellowship for Leading Early Career Researchers of the Baden-Württemberg Foundation, and the project “Language acquisition and sociolinguistic variation: A longitudinal study on the acquisition of n-apocope in Alemannic”, funded by the Research Innovation Fund of the University of Freiburg. Moreover, he is one of the principal investigators of the DFG-funded scientific network “Interactional Linguistics – Discourse particles from a cross-linguistic perspective”.

After his studies of German Linguistics, Cognitive Science, and Romance Philology at the Universities of Freiburg and Tours, Martin Pfeiffer obtained a DAAD scholarship for a research stay at the Department of Linguistics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2010. He received his PhD from the University of Freiburg in 2014 with a dissertation entitled “Self-repair in German: A syntactic and interactional analysis”. In 2017, he held a teaching appointment at the Center for the Study of Language and Society at the University of Bern. In 2019, he was a visiting fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies, LMU Munich and held a teaching appointment at the German Department at the University of Basel.

His research interests include interactional linguistics, multimodal communication, sociolinguistics, and language acquisition. Currently, his research focus is on how adults and young children use exclamatives in face-to-face interaction.

Publications (Selections)

  • Pfeiffer, Martin (2019): Grenzüberschreitende Identitäten im badischen Oberrheingebiet. Unterschiede in der Konstruktion sprachlicher und regionaler Verbundenheit mit dem Elsass. Linguistik Online 98, 329-361.
  • Pfeiffer, Martin und Peter Auer (2019): Erfahrung und Stereotyp an der elsässisch-badischen Grenze: Repräsentationen der Anderen und ihre narrative Verarbeitung. In: Nicole Palliwoda, Verena Sauer und Stephanie Sauermilch (Hg.): Politische Grenzen - Sprachliche Grenzen? Dialektgeographische und wahrnehmungsdialektologische Perspektiven im deutschsprachigen Raum. Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter, 143-178.
  • Pfeiffer, Martin (2017): The syntax of self-repair in German: An explanatory model. Journal of Pragmatics 119, 63-80.
  • Pfeiffer, Martin (2016): The deictic dimension of exclamations: On the use of wh-exclamatives in German face-to-face interaction. Revue de Sémantique et Pragmatique 40, 35-57.
  • Pfeiffer, Martin (2014): Formal vs. functional motivations for the structure of self-repair in German. In: Brian MacWhinney, Andrej Malchukov and Edith Moravcsik (eds.): Competing motivations in grammar and usage. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 229-245.


Exclamatives in face-to-face interaction

Based on video recordings from German conversations, this project investigates how exclamatives (e.g. Wie groß die ist! ‘How tall she is!’ or Das ist aber ein schönes Bild! ‘What a beautiful picture!’) are used in face-to-face interaction. Existing studies on exclamatives in German have largely been based on introspective analyses of invented sentences. The empirical exceptions either draw on exclamatives in written language or apply experimental methods. Analyses of spontaneous, natural data on this topic are absent in the literature. Therefore, the aim of this project is to develop an empirically based perspective on exclamatives. It focuses on four aspects that have not yet been investigated in an interactive context: I) the exclamative accent which has been studied experimentally in previous work, II) the social actions that exclamatives are used to accomplish, III) the interplay of verbal and non-verbal aspects of exclamatives (especially gaze direction, facial expression and pointing gestures), and IV) the acquisition of exclamatives during early childhood.