(see also Publication List)

Wörterbuch Hochschule (completed)

This is a specialist dictionary which provides comprehensive coverage of the terminology of university administration. The dictionary is based on two specialist corpora.

Multi-word discourse markers (open-ended project)

I have published a number of articles and a book-length study on multi-word discourse markers (Discourse Markers across Languages, Routledge 2005). My interest in these vital linking devices continues. 

  • Multi-word Discourse Markers in Translation: a Corpus-based Investigation into Restrictors. Lebende Sprachen 3 (2001), 97-107.
  • Second-level Discourse Markers across Languages. Languages in Contrast 3(2)/2001: 253-287.
  • Discourse Markers across Languages. A contrastive study of second-level discourse markers in native  and non-native text with implications for general and pedagogic lexicography. Abingdon/New York: Routledge 2004.
  • Wörterbuch der allgemeinen Wissenschaftssprache/Dictionary of Academic Usage. Bonn: DHV 2020.

Vocabulary learning

The chief aim of this project is to provide a sound theoretical basis for the production of unabridged electronic bilingual onomasiological learners’ dictionaries for German, English, French and, possibly, Spanish. The project draws on two main strands of empirical research: firstly, theoretical and corpus-based investigations designed to identify the most common collocations in the languages under survey. These investigations go beyond earlier research into vocabulary control, which focussed on individual words (West, Palmer, Thorndike). The second strand of research, which involves experiments with sixth-form and university students, is concerned with creating an optimal learning environment; it will try to answer questions such as the following:

  1. What kind of content should the dictionary have to meet the needs of various types of users?
  2. How can this content be categorized by topic or semantic field?
  3. For maximum retention, should collocations be presented as two- or three-word combinations (deny [] strenuously), in sentence fragments (that is something he would strenuously deny) or in complete sentences?
  4. Should a bilingual onomasiological dictionary contain both definitions and translations? If so, what form should the definitions take to maximize learning?
  5. To what extent can the dictionary be linked with texts from corpora or the Internet to support content-oriented language learning?
  6. How can video, audio and illustrations be incorporated into the dictionary?

  • Learning vocabulary with onomasiological bilingual learners‘ dictionaries: an empirical investigation. Reinfried, Manfred/Rück, Nicola, Innovative Entwicklungen beim Lehren und Lernen von Fremdsprachen (Festschrift für Inez de Florio-Hansen), Tübingen: Narr 2011, 303-330.

German learners' and teachers' vocabulary knowledge and listening comprehension skills (in cooperation with Christoph Bürgel; ongoing)

A pilot study which has been inspired by the DESI study, and which is designed to ascertain the real linguistic competence of French teachers at German grammar schools and tenth grade learners of French. The pilot study will initially be restricted to receptive lexical competence and listening comprehension competence, but the main study will also take account of productive lexical competence as well as writing and speaking skills. We have provisionally restricted the scope of our study because listening comprehension competence, which is closely linked to receptive lexical competence, is an essential prerequisite for self-learners who wish to gain access to the target language culture.

The vocabulary test is based on Hausmann’s chrestolexicographical studies and on test-theoretical considerations inspired by these publications (Hausmann 2002, 2005; Siepmann/Holterhof 2007). The problem is that there are only a few core curricula which still provide precise information about the minimum number of lexical units that have to be learned. According to the core curriculum for Lower Saxony, grade ten learners are supposed to have mastered a vocabulary which is sufficiently sophisticated to enable them to communicate effectively in general and individual situations. In accordance with the Bavarian curriculum we assume that students will have acquired a receptive vocabulary of 2,400 words by the time they have completed the tenth grade (i.e. after learning the target language for five or six years), but we have our doubts about the sophistication of the vocabulary items mastered by the learners. When various kinds of authentic texts are presented in auditory form, students are supposed to be able to understand them as a whole or in detail.

According to the master’s examination regulations of various German universities, graduate language teachers are generally expected to have attained level C1 or C2 of the CEFR. Since learners who have attained Level B2 are supposed to know over 15,000 individual words and expressions (Beacco et al. 2004), and since those who have attained level C1 are supposedly capable of understanding the details of oral texts dealing with abstract or complex subjects outside their area of specialization, we have no misgivings about equating the C1 level vocabulary with the 20,000 items included in Hausmann’s extended vocabulary. It is this vocabulary which constitutes the basis for the test we have devised for French teachers.

  • Rezeptive Wortschatzkompetenzen von Französischschülerinnen und -schülern auf dem Prüfstand. (with Christoph Bürgel, Henning Mittag & Oliver Wicher) französisch heute 4/2016: 5-11.
  • (2016): Französisch mangelhaft – trotz Kompetenzorientierung (with Christoph Bürgel), in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 29.12.2016, 6.

Le corpus de référence du français contemporain (French reference corpus; completed; in cooperation with Christoph Bürgel)


  • Das Corpus de référence du français contemporain (CRFC): Aufbau, Nutzung und erste Ergebnisse (with  Christoph Bürgel), in: Tinnefeld, Thomas (Hrsg.) (2016), Fremdsprachenvermittlung zwischen Anspruch und Wirklichkeit: Ansätze – Methoden – Ziele, Saarbrücker Schriften zu Linguistik und Fremdsprachendidaktik (SSLF): Saarbrücken: htw saar, 459-476.
  • The corpus de référence du français contemporain as the first balanced mega-corpus of French. International Journal of Lexicography 1 (30) (2015). DOI: 10.1093/ijl/ecv043.

Lists of the most frequent phrasemes in spoken and written French/Listen der häufigsten Phraseme des gesprochenen und geschriebenen Französisch (in cooperation with Christoph Bürgel; completed)

Downloadable from:

  • Les unités phraséologiques fondamentales du français – Frequenzlisten und unterrichtliche Aktivitäten (with Christoph Bürgel). französisch heute, 47/4 (2016), 12-18.
  • Les unités phraséologiques fondamentales du français contemporain (with Christoph Bürgel), in: Kauffer, Maurice & Keromnes,Yves (Hrsg.), Approches théoriques et empiriques en phraséologie, Tübingen: Stauffenburg, 189-211.

The lexis of emotion in five European languages (Le lexique des émotions dans cinq langues européennes) (DFG-ANR project, 2010-2012; completed)

The aim of the project is threefold:

  • The first aim is to deepen and conjoin the “representationist” and “contextualist” approaches to meaning (i.e. “meaning≈concept” versus “meaning≈usage”).
  • The second aim is to harness the relevant theories to practical implementation. In order to achieve this it will be necessary to carry out a contrastive analysis of the semantic values, combinatory (lexematic and syntactic) behaviour and discourse roles of lexemes relating to emotions. It will also be necessary to examine synonymic relationships between the words that are studied, and special attention will have to be given to syntagmata which can be substituted for terms that designate emotions with direct precision. The languages dealt with will be German, French, English, Russian and Spanish. The research findings will provide a better overview of the lexical field of emotions, thereby making it possible to move beyond existing lexicological and lexicographical studies.
  • Finally, the new facts brought to light during the project will be exploited with a view to improving foreign language teaching and the training of professional translators.

For further information, go to

The phraseology of the novel [PHRASEOROM (DFG-ANR project, 2016-2020; completed)]

For further information, go to

Wörterbuch der allgemeinen Wissenschaftssprache/Dictionary of Academic Usage. DHV 2020. (completed)

A Grammar of Spoken and Written French. / Grammatik des gesprochenen und geschriebenen Französisch (two volumes published; in cooperation with Christoph Bürgel) 

A Grammar of Spoken and Written French offers a new and authentic approach to French grammar. Based on a representative collection of texts (usually called a ‘corpus’) it covers the full breadth and depth of present-day French. This means that it never considers grammatical phenomena in isolation, but rather takes full account of the ways in which they combine with lexical items and are used in real text. Special attention is paid to the questions of which forms speakers use with particular frequency and how these forms are distributed across the spoken and the written language or across a variety of genres.

A Grammar of Spoken and Written French is a stand-alone grammar for learning, reference and practice and is intended for students whose command of the language has reached level B1 of the Common European Framework. It takes the tried and tested model of a grammar that provides examples and rules and supplements it with a lexical component. For most grammar patterns, it starts by covering the set(s) of lexical items found in each pattern, sometimes grouping items by topic; this is usually followed by examples illustrating the interplay of vocabulary and grammar; finally, where appropriate, a rule is formulated that follows logically from the examples given. The following is an example taken from Volume Five (prepositions):

en + condition


être, rester (depending on construction,   also: mettre, placer) en

+ colère, rogne, admiration, curiosité, …

+ fièvre, floraison, …

+ voyage, balade, tournée, …

+ cure, thérapie, …

+ accord, adéquation, désaccord, interconnexion, …

+ combat, révolte, …


Je suis en admiration devant   votre explication.

I admire your explanation.

… tu as intérêt à surveiller   qu'ils se couchent tôt! Il faut être en condition physique.

Make sure they go to bed   early. They have to be in shape.

Le patient va rester en   observation.

The patient will remain under   observation. 

En + NP is used with nouns expressing an emotion (en colère, en curiosité), a natural state (en fièvre, en floraison), an increase or decrease (en hausse, en perte, en progression), a journey (en voyage, en balade, en tournée), a medical treatment (en cure, en thérapie), agreement or disagreement (en accord, en adéquation, en désaccord, en interconnexion) or conflict (en combat, en révolte).

All the French examples come from the corpus, a practice which breaks with the tradition of all previous French grammars for learners which contrive examples for the purpose of teaching the language rather than using carefully selected specimens of contemporary usage. For ease of comprehension, most examples have been translated into English. In addition, translation is regularly used to compare English and French patterns with a view to highlighting interlingual difference and preventing interference – an extra benefit of translation being that users of this grammar will acquire a great deal of new vocabulary en passant. Although designed as a learner’s grammar, A Grammar of Spoken and Written French also breaks some new ground in the linguistic description of French.

There can be no grammar without a norm. Without norms, individual variation in language use would increase to such an extent that mutual comprehension would be impaired or rendered impossible. A Grammar of Spoken and Written French relies on an empirical norm which encompasses the selections attested in a representative corpus over a considerable length of time. It thus departs somewhat from the traditional French view that only the best authors can serve as normative models. As Meißner (2006: 248-249) has argued, in an attempt to answer the question ‘quel français enseigner?’ (‘what kind of French should we teach?’), television has long provided the uncontested statistical norm for spoken French by bringing numerous idiolects and linguistic varieties to the eyes and ears of a mass audience, while at the same time presenting them in such a way that they can be understood by the vast majority of viewers and listeners. With regard to the written language, the corpus used draws on fiction, newspapers and magazines, academic and popular scientific works as well as miscellaneous texts in everyday use. The establishment of this new norm has entailed numerous revisions of earlier work; thus, to take just one small example, the use of espérer with the subjunctive is portrayed as norm-conforming since it occurs in around half of all cases. 

  • L’élaboration d’une grammaire pédagogique à partir de corpus : l’exemple du subjonctif (with Christoph Bürgel), in: Tinnefeld, Thomas (Hrsg.), Grammatikographie und Didaktische Grammatik – gestern, heute, morgen. Gedenksymposium für Hartmut Kleineidam (†). Saarbrücker Schriften zur Linguistik und Fremdsprachendidaktik (SSLF), Saarbrücken: htw saar, 159-185.

General academic lexis (ongoing)

  • General academic language in German-English translation: a nuanced view. Lebende Sprachen 2/2019: 230-268.  
  • German and English: Academic Usage and Academic Translation: London/New York: Routledge 2021. (esp. Chapter 3)

Dictionary of Academic Usage. English-French. (ongoing, with J.D. Gallagher)

This dictionary will be modelled on the German-English Dictionary of Academic Usage (Wörterbuch der allgemeinen Wissenschaftssprache) which has already been published.

Dictionary of Academic Usage. German-English. (ongoing, with Susanne Dyka)

This is an alphabetical dictionary that will complement the thematic German-English Dictionary of Academic Usage (Wörterbuch der allgemeinen Wissenschaftssprache) which has already been published.

Monograph on language and language teaching (in German; ongoing)

Sprache(n) verstehen, lehren und lernen, verbessern. Eine kurze Einführung am Beispiel der Schulfremdsprachen Englisch, Französisch, Spanisch, Italienisch und Russisch.