Department of Design and Communication
University of Southern Denmark
Alsion 2
DK-6400- Sonderborg
phone +45-6550-1220

University of Hamburg
Fachbereich Informatik
Arbeitsbereich Nats
phone: +49 40 42883 2391
Vogt-Koelln-Str. 30
D-22527 Hamburg


Short CV:

2015- Professor (MSO) for Language and Technology Interaction at the University of Southern Denmark
2007-2015 Associate Professor at the University of Southern Denmark
2012 Habilitation in English Linguistics, University of Bremen
Spring 2012 Visiting Scholar at Stanford University, Psychology Department
Spring 2011 Visiting Scholar at Stanford University, H-Star Institute
Spring 2010 Visiting Scholar at Stanford University, H-Star Institute
2000 - 2006 Assistant Professor (wiss. Assistentin) in English Linguistics at the University of Bremen
1998 - 2000 Researcher in the Verbmobil Project, University of Hamburg
1998 Doctoral Degree, University of Bielefeld
1996 - 1998 Graduate Program `Task-oriented Communication', University of Bielefeld
1995 - 1996 Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley
1994 - 1995 Researcher at the University of Bielefeld
1993 MA in English Linguistics, University of Bielefeld


  • Project ’Improving Second Language Pedagogy at the Prosody-Pragmatics Interface using Human-Robot Interaction’, funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research (Coordinator, 2015-2019)
  • Project 'A Social Media Approach to Increasing Intercultural Competence in the Danish-German Border Region', funded by the BHJ-Fonden (Coordinator, 2017-2018)
  • Project 'The role of knowledge transfer and communication to account for Absorptive Capacity in firms', funded by SDU HUMSeed (Coordinator, 2016-2017)
  • Project 'Construction Grammar and the Description of Situated Spoken Interaction', funded by the Velux Foundation (Coordinator, 2013-2016)
  • Project 'iTalk - Integration of Language and Action Knowledge in Robots', funded by EU FP7 (PI, 2008-2012)
  • Project 'Ontospace' in the framework of the Spatial Cognition Independent Research Area, funded by the DFG (PI, 2003-2006)


For my publications, please check my Danish page.

Research Topics:

  • Verbal Human-Computer and Human-Robot Communication

Analyzing the spoken interaction between humans and artificial communication partners allows me to investigate core topics of human communication (like recipient design, accomodation to a communication partner, or the role of the partner's feedback) in controlled ways. I have furthermore developed the analysis of verbal human-robot interaction as a methodology for analyzing users' conceptions and mental models when interacting with a robot. In a current project in cooperation with the MMMI in Odense, I work on different Learning-by-Demonstration interfaces for an industrial robot arm (patent pending).

I have a small HRI-Labin Sonderborg, funded by the Mads Clausen Foundation, where we investigate interactional properties of language, for instance, the prosodic realization of utterances, using human-robot interaction. In this connection, we recently got funding by the Danish Council for Independent Research for the project 'Improving Second Language Pedagogy at the Pragmatics-Prosody Interface using Human-Robot Interaction' (2015-2019).

Within the project Ontospace with John Bateman in the framework of the DFG-funded transregional research area Spatial Cognition, I investigated some of the variables that determine the way we talk to artificial communication partners.

The proceedings of my Workshop on How People Talk to Computers, Robots, and other Artificial Communication Partners, April 21st-23rd, 2006, at the Hanse Wissenschaftskolleg, Delmenhorst can be dowloaded here. I have also edited a special issue for the Journal of Pragmatics on How People Talk to Computers and Robots. My book What Computer Talk Is and Is notconsists of conversation analytic and corpus linguistic investigations of the properties of speech directed at dialog systems.


In the framework of the ITALK project I have extended my work on human-robot interaction to the acquisition perspective, comparing how speakers address children with how they address robots in a language acquisition context. With my ITALK colleagues, I have worked on bootstrapping grammar from human-robot interaction and on the ways human tutors tailor their instructions to the humanoid robot iCub.

Over the past years, I have worked as a visiting scholar at Stanford in the framework of the H-star project and with Herb Clark at the Psychology Department on interpersonal variation in human-robot interaction, as well as on understanding the processes shaping how people deal with robotic agents in general.

  • Recipient Design: Partner Modeling, Alignment and Feedback

In my habilitation thesis (submitted in December 2011, successfully defended in December 2012, now published with John Benjamins), I investigate pbns_270_hb.pngthe relationship between partner models, alignment and feedback. Alignment has been found to be a pervasive mechanism taking place on all levels of linguistic representation (Pickering and Garrod 2004). However, so far it is not clear under which circumstances speakers align, why they do so only sometimes and to what degrees. I investigate what roles speakers' partner models, alignment to the respective partner's speech and the partner's feedback play and how the different underlying mechanisms are interrelated by studying the structure and function of infant/child-directed speech, so-called foreigner talk, and robotalk, that is, speech directed towards robots.

  • Discourse and Modal Particles

I have written my dissertation on the functional polysemy of English and German discourse particles. My collection: Approaches to Discourse Particles in which scholars like Deborah Schiffrin, Bruce Fraser, Eddy Roulet, Harald Weydt, Maj-Britt Mosegaard Hansen and many others outline their approaches to discourse particles/discourse markers in a comparable form, has appeared as Studies in Pragmatics 1with Elsevier.

In my project on Construction Grammar and the Description of Situated Spoken Interaction, funded by the Danish Velux foundation, we focus on the description of modal particles in German, English, Danish and Swedish.

  • Construction Grammar


I came into contact with Construction Grammar as a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1995/6. The notion of a construction, a complex form-meaning pair, has proven very useful in the description of numerous linguistic domains, which we explored for automatic grammar learning in the framework of the ITALK project. Currently, we apply this notion to the modeling of spoken interaction in a project on Construction Grammar and the Description of Situated Spoken Interaction(generously funded by the Velux foundation), in which we investigate how construction grammar can be extended to the description of verbal interaction, with modal particles as the example domain.

With Anatol Stefanowitsch, I have furthermore moderated the DFG-funded Scientific Network on Construction Grammar, more on which can be found here.

  • Pragmatics

I am furthermore interested in various topics in pragmatics, in particular interactional issues. I am associate editor (with Maj-Britt Mosegaard Hansen and Anne Barron) for Studies in Pragmatics (Brill) and member of the editorial board of the Journal of Pragmatics.

With Jacob Mey and Hartmut Haberland, I was founding co-editor of the journal Pragmatics and Society(John Benjamins), and since January 2013 I support the journal from the comfortable position as an editorial board member. The journal provides a forum for all socially-oriented pragmatics, including studies investigating the social impact of technology on communication.


At the University of Southern Denmark at Sonderborg, where I teach, we have developed a master program in Communication Design.

What's more....

I was also a relatively active member of the UmweltTeam Informatikat the University of Hamburg before we gave up in November 2013.

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