The Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS) is a non-university research institute of the federal state of Berlin that is jointly funded by the federal and state governments. It is sponsored by the Verein Geisteswissenschaftliche Zentren Berlin e.V. (GWZ). At the ZAS, the human faculty of language and its expression in individual languages is explored, with the aim to better understand this central human ability and its biological, cognitive and social factors. Knowledge gained on how language is structured, acquired and processed can be applied elsewhere, e.g. in the field of speech diagnostics or speech technology.
In the four research areas of ZAS, experts from all core subdisciplines of linguistics are active: Phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, lexicon, semantics and pragmatics as well as child language acquisition. The four research areas are accompanied by externally funded projects. This concentration of active research in multiple linguistic sub-disciplines in a single institution is unique in Germany and facilitates a direct exchange of current research results and methods. The multitude of visiting scholars and scholarship holders, as well as national and international workshops and conferences hosted by ZAS provide an important boost to its scientific work.
The scientific work at ZAS is based on on corpus linguistic methods and field research in the Eastern European, African and Pacific regions. A phonetics laboratory, a psycholinguistics laboratory and a motion-capture laboratory are available at ZAS for empirical testing and experimental modelling of predictions. A research library with approx. 58,200 volumes is available to staff from the institute and other linguistic institutions as well as to students studying linguistic in Berlin and Potsdam. ZAS supports university-level education by teaching courses and helping to coordinate linguistic research in Berlin and in joint EU projects.