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Ph.D. Paula Fenger

Research Fellow

Grammatische Systeme außereuropäischer Sprachen (JP)
Geisteswissenschaftliches Zentrum
Beethovenstraße 15
04107 Leipzig


I currently work as a Postdoctoral researcher in Grammatical Theory in the "Interaction of Grammatical Building Blocks" (IGRA) graduate program. I received my Phd from the University of Connecticut in October 2020.

My work focuses on syntax and morphology from a cross-linguistic perspective and I conduct cross-modular research to try to dissect how different components of grammar interact. Topics I am interested in are related to movement, agreement, and pronoun structure.

I have published in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory and the Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics,  in addition to numerous conference proceedings.

At the University of Leipzig I teach Masters and Graduate courses about syntax and morphology.

Professional career

  • since 10/2020
    Postdoctoral Researcher in Grammatical Theory, "Interaction of Grammatical Building Blocks" (IGRA) graduate program, University of Leipzig


  • 09/2009 - 08/2012
    BA Dutch Language and Literature at the University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
  • 09/2012 - 08/2014
    MA Linguistics at the University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
  • 08/2014 - 09/2020
    Phd Linguistics at University of Connecticut (USA)

The main focus on my research investigates whether cross-linguistic variation reflects deeper underlying variation, or whether commonalities are masked by superficial differences.  In order to investigate this, I conduct both cross-linguistic and cross-modular research. 

I look at phenomena in their totality, which means their syntactic as well as their morphological and phonological aspects, and try to dissect how the different components of grammar interact in the explanation of these phenomena. I look for potential similarities across modules, minimizing language-specific components of the explanations wherever possible. 

I conduct this work on the one hand by doing in-depth research on one language, for example in Dutch and its varieties. On the other hand, I do comparative research, both within a single family, such as Germanic; and across families, including Algonquian, Carib, Chukotko-Kamchatkan, Turkic, and the East-Asian language area.

Many of the topics I work on are centered around clause structure, movement, agreement, pronoun structure, and derivational morphology.