Melanie Weirich appointed to a Heisenberg-Professorship

15.07.2021

Dr. Melanie Weirich of the Research Unit Laboratory Phonology has received two offers for professorships. Congratulations!

In autumn, she will take up a Heisenberg professorship at the Friedrich-Schiller-Universität. With the Heisenberg Program, the German Research Foundation (DFG) supports outstanding scientists to prepare for a scientific leadership position.

In her research program "Phonetic Variability in Social Context", she will investigate the production, perception and reception of linguistic variability at the phonetic level. Both biological and social factors will be taken into account as causes of variability.

Who speaks how, when, and why? For example, how does gender-specific phonetic variability manifest itself, when do we find it, who uses it in which context? Speaker-internal factors (anatomy and physiology, regional and social identity, hormones, choice of partner, communication goal/effect) as well as speaker-external parameters (professional environment, time, society, culture/language, situation, interlocutor) are considered. Besides the inclusion of gender-specific, but also speaker-specific anatomical differences in the vocal tract, hormonal influences play an important role. With regard to social factors, the aspects of social identity (attachment to speech community, gender identity) and adaptation to the social environment are explored. This includes changing role models in society and the associated possible differences in gender-specific language between cultures or generations, but also the influence of gender (un)typical professions and professional environments (manager, nurse). In addition to the analysis of the linguistic variation of the speakers, also the listeners are considered and the aspects of expectation, prejudice and effect are illuminated.