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Peter Auer

Peter Auer (*1954 Regensburg) received the State Research Prize for his work in the area of Linguistics.

Peter Auer, linguistics professor at the University of Freiburg and co-director of the School of Language & Literature at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS), received the 2011 Baden-Württemberg State Research Prize for his work on regional language varieties. Auer’s research focuses primarily on how the regional differences in German change in the course of societal development. His findings are significant for fundamental research as well as for the training of future teachers.

Peter Auer has introduced modern sociological and cognitive theoretical approaches to the areas of structural linquistics, language typology, and variational linguistics. For example, he was the first of his colleagues to identify the significance of elements of prosody, such as syllable structure, for the description of languages, thus laying the foundation for a now productive branch of research. His studies on conversation are at the forefront of discourse research, not only in Germany. With his work on “online syntax” he is breaking new ground in the description of sentence structure by analyzing the psychological and interactional processes involved in speaking. Auer’s current research interests include dialects and social varieties. He combines traditional dialectology, especially that of the Alemmanic dialect in Southwestern Germany, with a modern theory of variational dynamics, also taking into account questions of migration and language contact, as well as with the latest theories on stereotype research, globalization, and urbanization. In place of traditional notions of territory, Auer’s research foregrounds the social construction of the “other,” collective processes of perception, and the cognitive projection of social groups.