Malte Zimmermanns Startseite
Malte Zimmermann's Homepage
Hier sollte ein Bild von mir erscheinen... / There should be a picture of me here...


Prof. Dr. Malte Zimmermann

Institut für Linguistik
Universität Potsdam
Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24-25
D-14476 Potsdam

Tel.: +49-(0)331-977-2319
Fax: +49-(0)331-977-2087

Email to: mazimmer_at_

About Me

    I am full professor of semantics and theory of grammar at the Linguistic Department of Potsdam University. I am interested in the language capacity of human beings in general, and in the relation of linguistic form and meaning, aka semantics, in particular. Among many other things, I am interested in quantification, tense, question semantics, discourse particles, and information structure. Me and the members of my Potsdam semantics group are also extremely interested in the semantics of under-researched languages of Africa and (South)East Asia, which involves semantic field research in Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria. Together with Edgar Onea (Goettingen), I have just started another exiting research project on the semantic or pragmatic nature of exhaustivity effects with clefts and focus constructions across languages. I am also a faculty member of the African Linguistics School (ALS), which takes place biannually in different West African countries.
    Apart from linguistics, I enjoy being and travelling with my family, including interesting outdoor adventures such as hiking, cycling, and canooing. Last but not least, I am fostering an undying love for the football team of FC St Pauli, who may not always be great - but they are trying!

Recent talks

  • WIRD SCHON STIMMEN! A unified analysis of schon as degree operator; Philips University Marburg, March 3, 2014
    The talk develops a unified analysis of the German particle 'schon' in its various guieses as an aspectualy particle (already) and disourse particle (rather...than). The analysis is an extension of an analysis of aspectual 'schon' in Krifka (2000), and treats 'schon' in both guises as a focus-sensitive operator that has the prejacent proposition entail all focus alternatives on a contextually-given (modal or temporal) scale
  • Conventional vs Free Association with Focus: Insights from West African and South East Asian Languages; University of Bar Ilan, Tel Aviv, February 3, 2014
    The talk sums up the findings of my SFB project on "Focus interpretation from a cross-linguistic perspective" on focus-sensitive elements in West African (Basa'a, Bura, Ga, Ngamo, Medumba) and Asian (Vietnamese, Ishkashimi) languages. Drawing on these findings, I propose a generalized version of Kay's (1990) analysis of scalar particles like 'even' that can account for the cross-linguistically robust observation that scalar particles can not only associate with foci, but ALSO with contrastive topics.
  • Contrastive Focus and Verb Doubling in Medumba (Grassfields Bantu; Universiteit van Amsterdam, September 20, 2012
    The talk presents joint work with Constantine Kouankem (Yaound). We show that focus in Medumba is morphologically marked, and that there is no evidence for syntactic focus licensing. Verb doubling under focus is derived from an incompatibility of the adnominal focus marker 'a' with [+verbal] finite verbs. Instead the a-marker must be realised on an infinitival copy of the verb in a non-verbal environement


  • 2011 Full Professor of Semantics and Theory of Grammar, Universität Potsdam
  • since 2009 Director of Collaborative Research Centre SFB 632 Information Structure
  • 2006 Junior professor of Semantics, Universität Potsdam
  • 2003-2006 Research assistant in project B2 Focus in the Chadic languages, SFB 632 Information Structure, Humboldt University Berlin
  • 2002-2003 Postdoc in graduate program "Sentence Types: Variation and Interpretation", University Frankfurt/Main



This term: Winter 2014

Previous Courses (selected)