Stefan Pfänder does research on present-day phenomena and current changes in Romance Languages (French, Spanish, Francocreole), focusing three complementary research areas:

  1. Linguistic research is increasingly characterized by the assumption that language needs to be investigated in its natural habitat, as it were, namely in the context of social and often bodily interaction. Consequently, the first research area is concerned with an investigation of the syntax of Romance languages and varieties in multimodal interaction.

    This research area aims to model spoken language, and spoken syntax in particular, in bodily interaction, including gestures and body movement.

    The software MOCA-A (Multi-modal Oral Corpora: Administration & Analysis) has been developed at Stefan Pfänder’s chair since 2004, in cooperation with the chair of Peter Auer in German linguistics. MOCA-A enables the digital analysis of audio and video data, using, for example, time-aligned transcriptions, and is successfully being used for the analysis of different corpora (a total of 8,436 recordings to date). The MOCA-A analysis programs that include motion tracking software have been developed by Daniel Alcón and have been accepted as state-of-the-art tools by the German Research Foundation (cf., for example, PF 699/1-1 CIEL_F Corpus International, DFG GRK 1624/1+2 Frequency in Language).

  2. The second research area, Collaborative Storytelling / Retelling, developed out of an interdisciplinary research project with social psychology, funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation ( Wiedererzählen).

    This research area aims to investigate and model the interplay of gestures and words in jointly narrated experiences. An additional area of interest is the development of individual patterns in re-tellings and their adaptation to individual narrative situations.

    Narrative research within the Thyssen project was followed up during a FRIAS senior fellowship and the successful co-acquisition of a Research Training Group funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG-GRK 1767 Faktuales & Fiktionales Erzählen). Third party funding was also vital for the establishment of a Retold Story Archive that comprises 400 narrations to date. 40 of those narrations have been realized in the form of video tapings of couples.

    In 2016, a cooperative project with cultural anthropology and psychosomatics / body psychotherapy provided the opportunity to link research areas 1 and 2 and develop a special research focus. The project investigates and models the Synchronization of interactants in everyday, aesthetic and therapeutic interaction and is co-funded by the FRIAS and the European Union.

  3. The third research area describes French and Spanish in contact with other languages and investigates instances of contact-induced language change in these contact settings.

    This research area aims to provide a comprehensive yet detailed picture of the world languages French and Spanish, focusing on their consistency and differentiation in a globalized word.

    In his doctoral and post-doctoral work, Stefan Pfänder has mainly been investigating the emergence of new languages (French based Creoles in the Caribbena and South America) or new varieties of European languages in contact (Andean Spanish in Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador). Over the past few year, Stefan Pfänder’s work has shifted its focus to the negotiation of linguistic forms and structures in bodily and web-based interaction (cf. PF 699/1-1 CIEL-F Corpus International und PF 699/4-1 Kontaktvarietäten/NCAT, both funded by the German Research Foundation). From this modified perspective, Stefan Pfänder investigates both typologically related (Romance) languages as well as contact situations between typologically different languages (Spanish and Guaraní/Quechua, French and Arabic/Wolof).