Dr. Stefan Schnell

Senior researcher (Distributional Linguistics Lab, Department of Comparative Language Science, Univeristy of Zurich)

I am a senior researcher in the Distributional Linguistics Lab in the Department of Comparative Language Science at the University of Zurich. In my research I investigate morphosyntactic variation in the usage of diverse languages by deploying quantitative corpus linguistic methods. The two main general goals of my work are 1. contribute to a better understanding of universal and language-specific aspects of language use and 2. elucidate the relationshsip between variation in language use and the distribution of lnguistic structures across human languages.

Latest publications
  • Schnell, S., Schiborr, NN., Vollmer, MC., Haig, G. (2023). Are referent introductions sensitive to forward planning in discourse? Evidence from Multi-CAST. In: A. Barotto, S. Mattiola (Eds.), Discourse phenomena in linguistic typology. 231 – 268. Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
  • Torres, C., Schnell, S. 2022. A corpus study of word (root) prominence in Vera’a. In: R. Billington (Ed.), Proceedings of the 18th Australasian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology, 211-215. Australasian Speech Science and Technology Association.
  • Schnell, S. (2022). Caused accompanied motion constructions in Vera’a. In: A. Margetts, S. Riesberg, B. Hellwig (Eds.), Caused accompanied motion. 243 – 271. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins. https://doi.org/10.1075/tsl.134.09sch
  • Schnell, S., Schiborr, NN. (2022). Crosslinguistic corpus studies in linguistic typology. Annual Review of Linguistics 8, 171 – 191.
Corpus-based typology

My core interest in linguistics revolves around questions of typological divsersity and universal trends in human languages, and their roots in language use during communication. I investigate this relationship in corpus-linguistic studies of diverse, and in particular understudied, languages from different families that emerge as a new field called corpus-based typology.

I am co-editor (with Geoffrey Haig, Bamberg) of the multilingual corpus of annotated spoken texts Multi-CAST. Based on this corpus I have over recent years published a range of studies addressing questions of argument realisation, argument encoding and alignment.

Fieldwork and language documentation in North Vanuatu

Since 2006 I have been conducting fieldwork on Vanua Lava in North Vanuatu to document and describe the Oceanic language Vera’a which is one of two still actively used languages on the island alongside Vurës. I have also been recording some of the last speakers of the moribund language Lemerig.

Documentation of Vera’a and Lemerig

Twin waterfalls at Sasar, near the old village of Vera’a, West Vanuau Lava ©Stefan Schnell