Why this program?
The interdisciplinary MA program of the Department of Comparative Language Science approaches language as a central cognitive faculty that sets humans apart from other animals.
The program’s main questions are: What are the biological and social conditions that led to the emergence of language in our species and to the way it is transmitted over generations? What allows children to acquire any of the world’s languages? How does linguistic diversity evolve and how do linguistic structures spread across space and time? How do people from different cultural traditions use language and what impact can language have on cognition? How is language perceived, processed, and produced in the brain? What distinguishes human language from the communication systems of other species?
What will I learn?
The Department of Comparative Language Science of the UZH offers a broad range of courses, which are tightly linked to current research conducted at the department.
Core research topics that relate to the MA program are:
- Global diversity and distribution of linguistic phenomena
- Explanations of such distributions based on biological, psychological, historical, and geographical grounds
- Ontogeny of language and language processing in various socio-cultural and linguistic contexts
- Phylogenetic origin of language through comparisons with similar phenomena across other species
- Quantitative analyses and modeling of language change, language ontogeny, and language processing
Recent Master's theses
- The Information Content of a Core Social Call Type in Chimpanzees: The Pant-grunt. (Nurcihan Özcan)
- Diachronic Effects of Animacy on Object Marking: Insights from Icelandic (Thomas Huber)
- Distinguishing Prelinguistic Vocalisations: Imperative vs. Declarative Pointing Acts (Johanna Schick)
- Usages of ‹Give› and ‹Get› Verbs in Khmu: Embedded in a Diachronic and Areal-linguistic Context
Note: Until December 2020, the name of this Master's degree program was «Evolutionary Linguistics».