“Patterns of repetition in language use”


International Workshop of the Research projects “What’s up, Switzerland?” and “What’s up, Germany?” at the University of Leipzig, 15./16. January 2018

Two-day workshop (with an introduction, 4 keynote lectures, 11 slots for shorter talks and a concluding discussion)


Workshop Convenors
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (University of Leipzig)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (University of Zurich)


Description of the topic and research questions
Repetition in language is a riddle: On the one hand, it increases redundancy and thus helps the message to come across, on the other hand, it is costly for the speaker and contradicts the overall goal of an efficient encoding process. From a structuralist point of view, it is incompatible with a conception of language as a consistent system with all (meaningful) elements standing in functional opposition to each other. Doubling phenomena are, however frequent in the languages of the world, at least at the level of observation (e.g. Spanish: Le doy un libro a María, her.DAT-give1.SG. a book to Mary-DAT, ‘I give a book to Mary’), and repetition may serve various functions in interactionists accounts of language use. In interaction, we often refer back to central aspects of the message of our interlocutors to confirm understanding. Repetition is one possibile way of doing so, and we may either use our own linguistic form or take over (features of) the form used by our interlocutor. In this second case, repetition of foreign forms is part of an accommodation process that can change the individual's repertoire, his/her personal language use and, when it spreads within the community, it may even result in language change.

Keeping this in mind, the workshop intends to have a closer look at repetition phenomena in language use, with a (however not exclusive) focus on mobile written communication such as WhatsApp messages, in order to identify various functions of patterns of repetition.

Guiding questions of the discussion are:
What is doubled or repeated (features, forms, chunks, sentences)? How can linguistic theory account for repetition, and what does it tell us about language structure? Which aspects of repetition are central in interaction? Are there triggers for a repetition of foreign forms? How does repetition influence changes to an individual’s language use?

Invited speakers:

  • Martin Salzmann, University of Leipzig: What doubling can tell us about grammar"
  • Jannis Androutsopoulos (Hamburg)
  • Jan Blommaert (Tilburg)
  • Isabelle Buchstaller, University of Leipzig: "Individual patterns in language use across the life span"


We invite submission of abstracts by May 15 2017. Abstracts should be sent in as a PDF, fully anonymized and not exceed 600 words (examples and references included) and be accompanied by an email indicating the author’s name, affiliation, email address and the title of the abstract. Please send them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Notification of acceptance: August 15th 2018.


Organizing commitee:
Samuel Felder (Leipzig)
Silvia Natale (Bern)
Rossella Maraffino (Bern)
Beat Siebenhaar (Leipzig)
Elisabeth Stark (Zürich)
Franziska Stuntebeck (Zürich)
Simone Ueberwasser (Zürich)