Empirical and Theoretical Linguistics


Applications are open for the upcoming term! Visit our application page to learn more.

Please note that in the case of a continued lockdown, the regular study program will be implemented via e-learning means. It is not necessary to suspend or defer your studies.

The Winter Semester (October 2020 - February 2021)_Timetable are now available. Click here to learn more.

First year ETHEL students spent the morning with several linguists at Babbel in Berlin, Jennifer Dorman (2018 ETHEL graduate), Jacey Cargill, Michela Mosca, and Ania Stryjewska, all of whom put their linguistic backgrounds to use in different aspects of developing the learning features and engaging content that support and guide users throughout their learning journey. The students discovered how linguists, data scientists, designers and engineers all work together to create a robust language learning experience that is designed to support a conversational method of language learning. The discussions with Babbel's team outlined how Babbel applies cognitive science, linguistics, and behavioral psychology to ensure the optimal learning journey as well as how they experiment continually and analyze, gather and examine quantitative and qualitative data to make evidence-based decisions.

Congratulations to ETHEL’s programme coordinator, Joanna Błaszczak, the 2019 recipient of the Polish Award for Intellectual Development in the category "Scientist of the Future" [Polska Nagroda Inteligentnego Rozwoju 2019 w kategorii "Naukowiec przyszłości"]. The award recognizes Dr. Błaszczak‘s coordination of the project “Psycholinguistic investigations into number and quantification in natural language”, which was funded by The National Science Centre as part of the programme OPUS 5 (DEC-2013/09/B/HS2/02763).

Information about the project is available in the June 2019 issue of Puls Biznesu under the section „Rzecz o Innowacjach”.

Since 2016, the award winners have been organisations and individuals who are future-oriented in their activities. All projects, investments and initiatives implemented by the winners are innovative and are the best examples of sustainable and intelligent growth.

The initiator and organizer of the award is the Intelligent Development Center. The media partners are the thematic division "Rzecz o Innowacji i Inwestycjach" and the "goPL" program. The substantive partner is the Silesian Center for Business Ethics and Sustainable Development at the Silesian University of Technology. The honorary patron of the President of the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland, Dr. Alicja Adamczak.

Congratulations to 2018 ETHEL graduate, Jennifer Dorman, on the publication of her M.A. thesis in the recent volume of Generative Linguistics in Wrocław (GLiW, No. 6, 2019), Production and Comprehension of Twitter Discourse: An Experimental Study.

A formal semantics class at the Humboldt University of Berlin, February 25 - March 1, 2019

The ETHEL students spent one week in Berlin attending the formal semantics class (Introduction to verb semantics) taught by Dr. Radek Šimík.

Check out the most recent joint publication by 2017 ETHEL graduate and current PhD candidate, Hanna Kędzierska, and ETHEL instructors: Joanna Błaszczak, Piotr Gulgowski, Dorota Klimek-Jankowska and Wojciech Witkowski.

Hanna Kędzierska, Wojciech Witkowski, Joanna Błaszczak, Dorota Klimek-Jankowska, and Piotr Gulgowski. 2018. On the relevance of the syntactic flexibility of an idiom for its recognition: Experimental evidence from Polish. Anglica Wratislaviensia 56: 179–204


A workshop on Methods in Psycholinguistics: Wrocław, January 2019

The ETHEL students spent several days in January learning about EEG and eye-tracking techniques. They will use these techniques in their own experiments later.

A great talk by Dr. Małgorzata Cavar: Wrocław, December 11, 2018

Dr. Małgorzata Cavar from Indiana University (Bloomington, USA) presented her ideas about the role of the tongue root in speech production in a lecture given at the Center of Experimental Research on Natural Language, University of Wrocław, on December 11. She showed us convincing results from a 3D ultrasound study and discussed their theoretical implications. We learned a lot.

Neurolinguistic Experiment Techniques (Internship): Berlin, 2018

Willkommen in Deutschland!

The ETHEL team spent the week in Berlin participating in a neurolinguistics internship in partnership with the PhonLab at the Centre for General Linguistics (ZAS) and the Department of Psychology at Humboldt University. The techniques that the ETHEL team learned in the hands-on training sessions included electropalatography (EPG), electroglottography (EGG), electromagnetic articulography (EMA), functional magnetic resonance imaging or functional MRI (fMRI), and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

Eye-Tracking Experiments (Seminar): Wrocław, 2018

The ETHEL team is always learning! We spent three days in September 2018 with Dr. Anna Czypionka from Constance University (Universität Konstanz) discussing best practices in designing and analyzing data from eye-tracking experiments. The methodologies will be applied to our upcoming eye-tracking studies.

Check out the most recent collaboration by Joanna Błaszczak (ETHEL programme coordinator), Dorota Klimek-Jankowska (University of Wrocław), and Anna Czypionka (Constance University):

Why are verbal nouns more verbal than finite verbs? New insights into the interpretation of the P200 verbal signature

Blaszczak, J., Czypionka, A., & Klimek-Jankowska, D. (2018). Why are verbal nouns more verbal than finite verbs? New insights into the interpretation of the P200 verbal signature. Glossa: a journal of general linguistics, 3(1), 78. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.365

The special double issue of Acta Linguistica Academica: An International Journal of Linguistics, Vol. 65, Issue 2–3 is now available! The issue, edited by ETHEL's own dr. Joanna Błaszczak, investigates number and quantification in natural language and features several papers from ETHEL professors:

Congratulations to 2017 ETHEL graduate and current PhD candidate, Hanna Kędzierska, on the publication of her thesis in the recent volume of Generative Linguistics in Wrocław (GLiW, No. 5), The Role of Context in the Processing of Idioms: An Experimental Study.

Follow ETHEL on Twitter at @ETHEL_UWr for regular updates.

What our graduates are saying

I had researched linguistics programs at universities throughout Europe and, when I read about the ETHEL program (Empirical and Theoretical Linguistics) at the University of Wrocław, I knew that I had found a program that would provide the balance of linguistic theory and experimental innovation for which I had been searching. I started the ETHEL program with only superficial theoretical and practical background knowledge of linguistics. The program is designed, however, to provide participants with a comprehensive foundation in all the core sub-disciplines within the field of linguistics. The modular structure scaffolded knowledge and skills in such a way as to allow me to begin to refine the direction of my personal research goals as early as the second semester, with full specialization by the third semester. The professors in the ETHEL program are extremely knowledgeable and highly supportive. They are responsive to the needs and interests of the students and often designed learning experiences based on topics that we were researching or planning to investigate. As part of the modular structure, I was able to study under leading linguists from around the world, some of whom visited the university to offer exclusive seminars and courses as part of the ETHEL program. I was also able to participate in the regular seminars and research discussions coordinated by the Center for Experimental Research on Natural Language at the University of Wrocław. Putting theory into hands-on practice is a core component of the ETHEL program. To that end, I was engaged in creating and implementing psycholinguistic experiments, including in the EEG and eye-tracking laboratories, and also assisted in the publication of an issue of Generative Linguistics in Wrocław (GLiW). The university itself is situated in the heart of picturesque Wrocław, a destination in its own right. This vibrant city boasts a unique melding of historic charm, extensive green spaces, culinary culture, theater, music festivals, arts, and technological innovation. Wrocław is an easy city to navigate on foot, bike, or with the extensive mass transit options and it is well-connected to numerous other European destinations via plane, train, or bus. I’ll leave the ETHEL program and the city of Wrocław deeply enriched in both knowledge and experience. I’d highly recommend the ETHEL program to any student with an interest in linguistics and science who is seeking a challenge in a nurturing and inspiring environment.

There are at least a few reasons why I would recommend anyone considering ETHEL to give it a good chance. First, however obvious it may seem, the programme really is a great opportunity to further your knowledge about linguistics. Personally, I started knowing only the basics (and there were even areas, like computational linguistics or typology, I had barely heard about before that time) but, as the range of courses offered here is really wide, one can easily choose an area which interests them most (in my case, psycholinguistics). Then, and this is the second reason why I am really glad I have decided to participate in the programme, it is a perfect place to conduct your own scientific research, for instance, in order to write the MA thesis but sometimes also as part of other projects. This is primarily thanks to the extraordinary helpfulness of the instructors with whom one has contact all the time. Although (let us not kid ourselves) studying in a small group may occasionally have its drawbacks, I think this kind of individual approach is something rarely met and thus precious. Moreover, the programme is a great chance to meet people (both students and instructors) from all over the world, and learning something about languages whose existence one has not even expected. For instance, last term, we had visiting instructors who dealt with such exotic languages as Kwa or Daakie which was particularly interesting because one could find out more about the specificity of the field work the researches had done. What I enjoyed most, however, were the classes devoted to reading about (and finally designing ones’ own) experimental research, mostly focused on speech production and processing. I find fascinating how, with the aid of various psycholinguistic methods, from the relatively simple (e.g. priming) to the more advanced ones (e.g. ERP), it is possible to investigate the factors which affect language processing and find out about the, sometimes very surprising, differences between, for instance, kids and adults, or first and second language users.

Veranika, Belarus

Thesis: The Role of Syntactic and Semantic Constraints in Relative Clause Attachment Processing in Russian: An Eye-Tracking Study

The name of this Master’s program speaks for itself, as it uniquely covers theory and practice in equal proportion. To my knowledge, this is the only such program in Poland, definitely the only one offered in English, and the quality is unparalleled. Students have both theoretical subjects (such as formal syntax, formal semantics, and historical linguistics) and more empirical subjects (such as psycho- and neurolinguistics and phonetics) together with lab courses teaching them how to design, conduct, and statistically analyze their own experiments. The labs are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and software applications, including an eye-tracker and an EEG apparatus, which are extremely exciting to work with. By the end of the first year, you will already know which area—theoretical or empirical—appeals to you more and in which you would like to specialize. The cohort is small enough to allow for continual feedback from teachers, all of whom are very helpful and knowledgeable, and students. This free exchange of ideas is very inspiring and gives you a lot of material for future research. The program also offers courses from esteemed guest professors. We had lectures on numerous language families, such as Mayan, Japanese, and Kwa, courses with researchers doing field work, and workshops on different experimental methods, such as the visual world paradigm or self-paced reading. Personally, I find psycho- and neurolinguistics to be the most fascinating areas of linguistics and they are very well covered in this program. ETHEL is also a great start if you would like to continue in academia and pursue a career in science. An extra advantage to this program is Wrocław itself, which, so far, is the greenest and the most attractive city I have ever lived in.

Paula, Poland

Thesis: Processing of Idioms in Predictive Contexts: An ERP study

Language is the key to the knowledge of the world. The most valuable and important information transfers happen every day through the most usual and effortless conversations. This complex process of exchanging ideas lets people express their opinions, feelings and emotions. It connects people on many levels and builds up interpersonal relations. Thanks to language we can observe and keep the record of intensive growth and progress in all areas of life, not to mention the scientific field. Choosing to understand people is to deliberately choose to understand language. This leads to getting acquainted with the mechanisms of all communicational systems that give us the very special insight into the mechanisms that govern the world around us. The ETHEL program provides the opportunity to dig into mysterious and gripping topics of the origin and change, diversity and common properties of languages, as well as it introduces detailed structures of language systems. Students not only obtain a broad theoretical knowledge but also have access to modern psycholinguistic laboratories where they can conduct their own experiments. They are well informed about the most crucial studies in linguistics and they get a chance to contribute to them. Students actively take part in lectures by putting forward new ideas, suggesting solutions to problems and creating their own analyses. After every influential lecture they seek for more. Apart from regular classes, ETHEL students participate in special lectures given by professors from reputable universities and they can travel to other universities/places to learn from specialists. This is one and only program in English that offers Master’s Degree in linguistics, which is an advantage for foreigners but above all for Polish native speakers wanting to kill two birds with one stone – develop their knowledge of language and at the same time specialize in the scientific field with a huge potential. Specialists in linguistics have great job prospects and can choose from many different occupations. The ETHEL program teaches you to see the world in a different way; it arouses the curiosity, creativity and interest in everything around. Hence you are on the right track to profit from strong foundations built with passion and commitment. ETHEL is the place where the humanistic and logical mind merge together.