Linda Ammann (Gerlach)

Institute for Asian and African Studies
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin


Georgenstr. 23, 10117 Berlin

De:link//Re:link Project:

Language and identity: Reactions of local languages and their speakers to changes in their physical and emotional living environment

Linda Ammann

Project Description

This postdoctoral project investigates whether changes caused by small- and large-scale infrastructure projects of the BRI have an impact on people’s linguistic behaviour and/or their interaction with their living environment. There are many studies dealing with the correlation of globalization (i.e. influences from media/internet, multilingual urban trade centres, influences from colonial languages etc.) and language change and language vitality (see e.g. Vigouroux & Mufwene 2008) and some studies on the language planning policies and its influence on languages along the BRI (see e.g. Gao 2020). In this project I aim at “zooming in” from the global perspective to specific local scenarios and look at the effects of global projects such as the BRI on selected local communities and their languages. Central research questions are whether there is a correlation between new/better infrastructure and linguistic change (i.e. language use, L2 language acquisition, etc.) in urban and rural locations and if (and how) infrastructural and linguistic changes influence people’s identities. The project is carried out with the support of Prof. Tom Güldemann.

Gao, Yang. 2020. How the Belt and Road Initiative Informs Language Planning Policies in China and among the Countries along the Road. Sustainability 12, 5506.
Vigouroux, Celine B. & Salikoko S. Mufwene (eds.) 2008. Globalization and Language Vitality – Perspectives from Africa. London/New York: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Research Interests


Linda Ammann (Gerlach) first studied Linguistics and African Studies at the University of Leipzig and then switched to the Master’s programme “African linguistics” at Leiden University, graduating in 2009. She completed her PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig and the Humboldt University Berlin in the Department of African Linguistics and Languages and published her dissertation thesis under the title N!aqriaxe – The phonology of an endangered language of Botswana (2016). Linda has specialized particularly on the areas of phonology of “Khoisan languages” and language contact and is interested in the role language plays in the transmission of (cultural) knowledge, but also on language as an identity-forming feature. In parallel to her academic career, Linda has worked for many years in NGOs (Climate without Borders, Orangutans in Peril).

Selected Publications