Author Archives: Annika Tjuka

About Annika Tjuka

My main goal is to answer questions about linguistic diversity with a focus on language variation in word meanings. I have a BA and MA degree in linguistics from the Humboldt University Berlin and am currently pursuing a doctorate at the University of Jena. I am a language scientist studying patterns and causes of words with multiple meanings. For my work, I use data from language documentation, large-scale databases, and computational methods. In my Master’s thesis, I conducted the first systematic study of body part extensions such as table leg and foot of the mountain. I examined the frequency of 95 expressions in 13 languages and the preferences for underlying analogy patterns based on similarity in shape, spatial orientation, and function. The first project of my doctoral research established the Database of Cross-Linguistic Norms, Ratings, and Relations for Words and Concepts (NoRaRe), which contains 98 datasets from linguistics and psychology across 40 languages including 65 word properties.

Blog Post Style Guide

The Computer Language Comparison in Practice blog has grown steadily over the past few years. Each year we had a number of blog posts written by our colleagues on various topics. With the introduction of a PDF copy for every blog post and the publication of an annual volume, these blog posts can be treated like publications in a non-peer-reviewed journal. We hope that our blog will continue to be a valuable publication venue for our colleagues, not only those working in our research group and department, but also outside collaborators, and scholars who are generally interested in the topic and want to share their ideas. To maintain a coherent structure for all posts, this blog post provides a style guide for all future posts. Continue reading

A Concept List for the Study of Semantic Extensions from Body to Objects

Many words have multiple meanings, especially words for body parts. Some languages call the branch of a tree arm and others refer to the roof with the word head. These are instances of colexifications between body and object concepts and they occur across various languages. However, languages vary in terms of the frequency of body~object colexifications in their lexicon. It is, therefore, important to understand the different drivers that can lead to body~object colexifications. One possible factor to consider is the degree of how visually conspicuous a part of the body is. In an ongoing project, I investigate the role of visual salience as a driving force behind body~object colexifications. This blog post gives a brief overview and introduces the concept list that is the basis for my study.

Continue reading

Extending the List of Color, Emotion, and Human Body Part Concepts

In a recent blogpost (Tjuka 2021), I introduced a list of color, emotion, and human body part concepts. The list is the basis for a study on colexifications across three semantic domains. The first version of the list included 192 concepts. Of these concepts, 34 were from the emotion domain. We decided to add 28 additional emotion concepts to the list because this will allow us to further improve our analysis and compare our results with previous studies on emotion semantics. This blog post introduces the extended list.

Continue reading

A list of color, emotion, and human body part concepts

Color, emotion, and human body parts are often considered universal semantic domains. However, cross-linguistic comparison of the connections within each of the domains reveals interesting differences across languages (e.g., Jackson et al. 2019). Researchers in lexical typology systematically collect the names for colors, emotions, and human body parts across various languages and analyze the principles of how naming patterns evolve. Using the same word for multiple concepts or colexification, for example, Vietnamese xanh denoting the colors green and blue, is often discussed in those studies. To study the colexifications across the three semantic domains color, emotion, and human body part, we need a set of comparable concepts. This blog post introduces a list of 192 concepts across all three domains based on the available concept sets in Concepticon (List et al. 2016, 2021).

Continue reading

A multilingual body part concept list

In the summer of 2018, I set out to collect data for my master’s thesis (Tjuka 2019). The goal was to elicit body part terms that can also refer to object and landscape features. This was BC (before COVID-19), so I was able to meet with informants living in Berlin at the time and conduct my urban fieldwork study. The informants who participated in the study spoke one of 13 different languages (e.g., Wolof, Vietnamese, Czech). As a first task, I elicited 28 body part terms to get a sense of the naming patterns in each language. This blog post provides background information and introduces the resulting multilingual body part concept list.

Continue reading

How to review concept lists in collaboration (How to do X in linguistics 6)

In 2016, the Concepticon was introduced as a reference catalog for linguistic data of various kinds (List et al. 2016). The aim of the Concepticon project is to collect concept lists and link the glosses in the lists to unified concept sets (List et al. 2016; List et al. 2020). The project is a collaborative effort and the group of editors is constantly adding new data to the Concepticon (https://concepticon.clld.org/). In 2019, we implemented a review process that works similar to a submission process at an academic journal and is improving the quality of the resource in many ways. This blog post describes our effort to improve data validity by reviewing every single concept list that is added to the Concepticon. The database is curated openly on GitHub, so you can follow our review process by looking at several examples here: https://github.com/concepticon/concepticon-data

Continue reading

How to organize a virtual journal club (How to do X in linguistics 4)

Over the past year, the doctoral students of our department have been organizing a weekly journal club. For me as a linguist, the discussions of various research articles opened up a whole new perspective on science in general and linguistics in particular. I learned about the interests and viewpoints of my fellow doctoral students and other researchers in our department working on historical linguistics, language documentation, and cultural evolution. In addition,  organizing a journal club also helped me learn how to spark and lead a discussion. I hope the following personal insights offer some ideas and guidelines on how you can organize a journal club of your own.

Continue reading

Possibilities of digital communication in linguistics (How to do X in linguistics 2)

I noticed that scientists deal with digital communication very differently: some avoid all sorts of platforms, others are much more present and involved in the discussions that are taking place in the online world. Digital communication as a linguist (or scientist in general) also includes sharing your research output. This does not have to be an article in a high-ranking journal. As a student, you can start by publishing your thesis, conference presentation slides, or a preprint. In this post, I’ll illustrate some of the possibilities that linguists and other researchers have to discuss and share their work.

Continue reading

A list of 171 body part concepts

The body of most human beings consist of similar parts such as a head, arms, legs, and so on. Many body parts also occur in animals. The shapes and functions of body parts are universal across cultures, but speakers of various languages choose to categorize the body differently. For example, Vietnamese has a single word (tay) for the concepts HAND and ARM. The universality of the human body and its categorization into different parts have attracted attention across research areas such as lexical typology and cognitive science. Therefore, I present a comprehensive list of human and animal body part terms based on German which were mapped to the concepts in the Concepticon (List et al. 2020). The list is intended for investigations on cross-linugistic naming patterns of body parts.

Continue reading

Adding concept lists to Concepticon: A guide for beginners

Scientific data should be openly accessible. This includes databases which are designed for collaborative work. However, in most cases, these databases are only extended by a team of experts. If a database is truly collaborative, the workflows need to be accessible for everybody. The Concepticon database  (List et al., 2019) invites contributors to include their own data sets. This requires a transparent description of the contributing process.

Continue reading