Home / Prof. Dr. Gerhard Jäger


Gerhard Jäger is Professor of General Linguistics at the University of Tübingen. His current research interests are on the empirical study of language evolution, drawing ideas and methods from historical linguistics and typology, natural language processing, evolutionary biology, and bioinformatics. Trained at the University of Leipzig and the Humboldt University in Berlin, Prof. Jäger has been a visiting researcher at several international universities, including the University of Pennsylvania (USA), University of Utrecht (Netherlands), and Stanford University (USA). In addition, he has completed fellowships at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study and the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study. Prof. Jäger was awarded an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) in 2013 for the five-year project “Language Evolution: The Empirical Turn” (EVOLAEMP), where he is the Principal Investigator. With Prof. Katerina Harvati, he currently directs the DFG Center for Advanced Studies “Words, Bones, Genes, Tools: Tracking linguistic, cultural, and biological trajectories of the human past.” Prof. Jäger has co-organized several international workshops, symposia, and conferences, including the Workshop on historical and empirical evolutionary Linguistics (WheeL), the 26th European Summer School in Logic, Language, and Information (ESSLI 2014), and the 6th Conference on Quantitative Investigations in Theoretical Linguistics (QITL-6). Prof. Jäger’s work has been published in international journals, among them the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, Journal of Theoretical Biology, and Language Dynamics and Change.

2002Dr. habil., Humboldt-University Berlin
1996Dr. phil., Humboldt-University Berlin
1992 - 1995Ph.D. student (Theoretical Linguistics) at the "Arbeitsgruppe Strukturelle Grammatik" of the Max Planck Society in Berlin
1992M.A. (Theoretical Linguistics, German Studies), University of Leipzig
1987 - 1992undergraduate student (Theoretical Linguistics, German Studies, Logic) in Leipzig and Düsseldorf
Professional Career
2015Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, Wassenaar
2015 - presentPI, DFG-Kollegforschergruppe Words, Bones, Genes, Tools: Tracking Linguistic, Cultural and Biological Trajectories of the Human Past
2013 - presentPI, ERC Advanced Grant EVOLAEMP (Language Evolution: The Empirical Turn)
2012Fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, Uppsala
2009Professor of general linguistics, University of Tübingen, Department of Linguistics
2004 - 2009Professor of semantics and syntax, University of Bielefeld, Department of Linguistics and Literature
2004Visiting scholar, Stanford University, Department of Linguistics
2003 - 2004Heisenberg grantee, University of Potsdam, Institute for Linguistics
2002 - 2003Lecturer, University of Potsdam, Institute for Linguistics
2001 - 2003Researcher, Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft in Berlin
2000 - 2001Postdoc (Otto-Hahn grant of the Max Planck Society), Utrecht Institute of Linguistics (OTS), University of Utrecht
1998 - 2000Researcher, Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft in Berlin
1997 - 1998Postdoc, Institute for Research in Cognitive Science, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
1995 - 1997Postdoc, Centrum für Informations- und Sprachverarbeitung, University of Munich
2019Rooting MADness, blog post, Computer-Assisted Language Comparison in Practice, 22/05/2019, https://calc.hypotheses.org/?p=1899.
(with Johann-Mattis List) Statistical and computational elaborations of the classical comparative method, manuscript, Tübingen and Paris.
Conceptual spaces and semantic similarities of colors, manuscript, UTübingen.
2018(with Christian Bentz, Dan Dediu, and Annemarie Verkerk)The evolution of language families is shaped by the environment beyond neutral drift, Nature Human Behavior 2, 816–821.
Global-scale phylogenetic linguistic inference from lexical resources, Scientific Data 5, 180189 (2018), doi.org/10.1038/sdata.2018.189.
Computational Historical Linguistics, arXiv:1805.08099.
(with Taraka Rama, Johann-Mattis List and Johannes Wahle) Are Automatic Methods for Cognate Detection Good Enough for Phylogenetic Reconstruction in Historical Linguistics?, Proceedings of NAACL/HLT 2018, Vol. 2, 393-400 (also at arXiv: 1804.05416).
(with Johann-Mattis List) Using Ancestral State Reconstruction Methods for Onomasiological Reconstruction in Multilingual Word Lists, Language Dynamics and Change 8(1), 22-54.
(with Katerina Harvati and Hugo Reyes-Centeno) (eds.) New Perspectives on the Peopling of the Americas, Tübingen: Kerns Publishing.
2017(with Taraka Rama, Johannes Wahle and Pavel Sofroniev) Fast and unsupervised methods for multilingual cognate clustering, arXiv:1702.04938.
(with Birgit Öttl and Barbara Kaup) The Role of Simple Semantics in the Process of Artificial Grammar Learning, Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, doi:10.1007/s10936-017-9494-y
(with Johann-Mattis List and Pavel Sofroniev) Using support vector machines and state-of-the-art algorithms for phonetic alignment to identify cognates in multi-lingual wordlists, in 15th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics. Proceedings of Conference, Volume 1: Long Papers, ACL, 1204-1226.
(with Hugo Reyes-Centeno and Katerina Harvati), Tracking modern human population history from linguistic and cranial phenotype, Scientific Reports 6, 36645; doi: 10.1038/srep36645.
(with Pavel Sofroniev) Automatic cognate classification with a Support Vector Machine, in Stefanie Dipper, Friedrich Neubarth and Heike Zinsmeister, eds., Proceedings of the 13th Conference on Natural Language Processing (KONVENS), Bochumer Linguistische Arbeitsberichte 16, Ruhr Universität Bochum, 128-134.
Grice, Occam, Darwin, Theoretical Linguistics 42(1), 111-115.
(with Johann-Mattis List), Investigating the potential of ancestral state reconstruction algorithms in historical linguistics, In Bentz, Christian, Jäger, Gerhard & Yanovich, Igor, eds., Proceedings of the Leiden Workshop on Capturing Phylogenetic Algorithms for Linguistics. University of Tübingen, online publication system.
(with Giuseppe Longobardi, Armin Buch, Andrea Ceolin, Aaron Ecay, Cristina Guardiano, Monica Irimia, Dimitris Michelioudakis and Nina Radkevich) Correlated evolution or not? Phylogenetic linguistics with syntactic, cognacy and phonetic data, in Roberts S.G., Cuskley C., McCrohon L., Barceló-Coblijn L. , Feher O. & Verhoef T., eds., The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 11th International Conference (EVOLANG11).
(with Søren Wichmann) Inferring the world tree of languages from word lists, in Roberts S.G., Cuskley C., McCrohon L., Barceló-Coblijn L. , Feher O. & Verhoef T., eds., The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 11th International Conference (EVOLANG11).
(with Michael Franke) Probabilistic pragmatics, or why Bayes' rule is probably important for pragmatics, Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft, 35(1), 3-44.
(with Johannes Wahle, Marisa Köllner, Harald Baayen and Tineke Baayen-Oudshoorn, eds.), Proceedings of the 6th Conference on Quantitative Investigations in Theoretical Linguistics, University of Tübingen.
Support for linguistic macrofamilies from weighted sequence alignment, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 112(41), 12752–12757.
(with Birgit Öttl and Barbara Kaup) Does formal complexity reflect cognitive complexity? Investigating aspects of the Chomsky Hierarchy in an Artificial Language Learning study, PLoS One 10(4), e0123059. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0123059.
(with Johann-Mattis List) Factoring lexical and phonetic phylogenetic characters from word lists, in J. Wahle, M. Köllner, H. Baayen, G. Jäger and T. Baayen-Oudshoorn, eds., Proceedings of the 6th Conference on Quantitative Investigations in Theoretical Linguistics, Tübingen.
(with Michael Franke) Pragmatic back-and-forth reasoning, in Salvatore P. Reda, ed., Pragmatics, Semantics and the Case of Scalar Implicature, Basingstoke, 170-200.
Rationalizable signaling, Erkenntnis 79(4), 673-706, DOI 10.1007/s10670-013-9462-3.
Lexikostatistik 2.0, in A. Plewnia & A. Witt, eds., Sprachverfall? Dynamik - Wandel - Variation. Jahrbuch 2013 des Instituts für Deutsche Sprache, Berlin, de Gruyter, 197-216.
What is a universal? On the explanatory potential of evolutionary game theory in linguistics, in E. McCready, K. Yabushita and K. Yoshimoto, eds., Formal Approaches to Semantics and Pragmatics, Springer, 85-103.
Phylogenetic inference from word lists using weighted alignment with empirically determined weights, Language Dynamics and Change 3(2), 245-291.
(with Judith Degen and Michael Franke) Cost-based pragmatic inference about referential expressions, in M. Knauff, M. Pauen, N. Sebanz and I. Wachsmuth (eds.), Proceedings of CogSci 2013, Cognitive Science Society, Austin, TX, 376-381.
Interpretation games with variable costs, in Johan van Benthem and Fenrong Lui, eds., Logic Across the University: Foundations and Application—Proceedings of the Tsinghua Logic Conference, Beijing, 14-16 October 2013. College Publications, London, 223-230 + 238-244 (author's response to comments).
Wie die Bioinformatik hilft, Sprachgeschichte zu rekonstruieren, in Alfred Nordheim & Klaus Antoni, eds., Grenzüberschreitungen: Der Mensch im Spannungsfeld von Biologie, Kultur und Technik, Bielefeld, 139-166. [to obtain the manuscript, please send me an email]
(with Armin Buch, David Erschler and Andrei Lupas) Towards automated language classification: a clustering approach, in Lars Borin & Anju Saxena, eds., Approaches to Measuring Linguistic Differences, Berlin, de Gruyter, 303-328.
(with Jim Rogers) Formal language theory: Refining the Chomsky Hierarchy, Philosophical Transaction of the Royal Society B, 367(1598), 1956-1970.
(with Michael Franke) Bidirectional optimization from reasoning and learning in games, Journal of Logic, Language and Information, 21(1), 117-139.
(with Hannah Rohde, Scott Seyfarth, Brady Clark, and Stefan Kaufmann) Communicating with Cost-based Implicature: a Game-Theoretic Approach to Ambiguity. Proceedings of the 16th Workshop on the Semantics and Pragmatics of Dialogue, 107-116.
(with Hannah Rohde, Scott Seyfarth, Brady Clark, and Stefan Kaufmann) Cost and implicature in word use: Testing predictions of a game-theoretic model of alignment, preproceedings of the Twenty-Fifth Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing, CUNY, New York, p. 25.
(with Tao Gong, Len Shuai, and Monica Tamariz) Studying language change using Price equation and Polya-urn dynamics, PLoS ONE 7(3): e33171. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033171.
Power laws and other heavy-tailed distributions in linguistic typology, Advances in Complex Systems 15(3/4).
Using statistics for cross-linguistic semantics: a quantitative investigation of the typology of color naming systems, Journal of Semantics 29(4), 521-544.
Estimating and visualizing language similarities using weighted alignment and force-directed graph layout, Proceedings of LINGVIS & UNCLH, Workshop at EACL 2012, Avignon.
Game theory in semantics and pragmatics, in C. Maienborn, P. Portner & K. von Heusinger (eds.), Semantics. An International Handbook of Natural Language Meaning, Vol. 3, Berlin: de Gruyter, 2487-2516.
(with Tao Gong and Monica Tamariz) Individual and social effects on linguistic diffusion, Proceedings of Evolang IX, Kyoto, Japan
(with Monica Tamariz and Tao Gong) Investigating the effect of prestige on the diffusion of linguistic variants, in Laura Carlson, Christoph Hoelscher and Thomas F. Shipley (eds.), Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Cognitive Science Society, Austin, 1491-1496.
(with Lars Koch-Metzger and Frank Riedel) Voronoi Languages, Games and Economic Behavior 73(2), 517-537.
Anton Benz, Christian Ebert, Gerhard Jäger & Robert van Rooij, eds. Language, Games and Evolution, Springer.
(with Michael Franke and Robert van Rooijj) Vagueness, signaling and bounded rationality, In T. Onoda, D. Bekki, and E. McCready, eds., JSAI-isAI 2010, Workshops, LENLS, JURISIN, AMBN, ISS, Tokyo, Japan, November 18-19, 2010, Revised Selected Papers, Springer, LNAI series, volume 6797 2011, 45-59.
Game-theoretical pragmatics, in J. van Benthem and A. ter Meulen, eds., Handbook of Logic and Language, 2nd edition, Elsevier, 467-491.
Review of Information structure: Theoretical, typological, and experimental perspectives (ed. by M. Zimmermann & C. Fery), Language 87(2), 435-438.
Natural color categories are convex sets, In M. Aloni, H. Bastiaanse, T. de Jager, & K. Schulz, eds., Logic, Language and Meaning. 17th Amsterdam Colloquium, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, December 16-18, 2009, Revised Selected Papers, Springer, 11-20.
The proof theory of partial variables, in T. Hanneforth & G. Fanselow, eds., Language and Logos. Festschrift for Peter Staudacher on his 70th birthday. Akademie Verlag, 188-199.
Christian Ebert, Gerhard Jäger and Jens Michaelis, eds., The Mathematics of Language. 10th and 11th Biennial Conference, MOL 10, Los Angeles, CA, USA, July 28-30, 2007 and MOL 11, Bielefeld, Germany, August 20-21, 2009, Revised Selected Papers, Springer.
Jäger, H., L. Steels, A. Baronchelli, T. Briscoe, M. H. Christiansen, T. Griffiths, G. Jäger, S. Kirby, N. Komarova, P. J. Richerson, and J. Triesch. What can mathematical, computational and robotic models tell us about the origins of syntax? In D. Bickerton and E. Szathmáry. (eds.), Biological Foundations and Origin of Syntax, Strüngmann Forum Reports, vol. 3. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 2009, 385-410.
(with Christian Ebert) Pragmatic Rationalizability, in Arndt Riester and Torgrim Solstad (eds.), Proceedings of Sinn and Bedeutung 13, SinSpeC. Working Papers of the SFB 732, vol. 5, University of Stuttgart, 1-15.
Language evolution and George Price's "General theory of selection", in Robin Cooper and Ruth Kempson (eds.), Language in Flux: Dialogue Coordination, Language Variation, Change and Evolution, College Publications, 53-82.
(with Anette Rosenbach) Priming and unidirectional language change, Theoretical Linguistics 34(2), 85-113.
Evolutionary stability conditions for signaling games with costly signals, Journal of Theoretical Biology 253(1), 131-141.
Applications of game theory in linguistics, Language and Linguistics Compass 2/3, 408-421.
Regine Eckardt, Gerhard Jäger and Tonjes Veenstra, eds., Variation, Selection, Development, Mouton de Gruyter.
The evolution of convex categories, Linguistics and Philosophy 30(5), 551-564.
Maximum Entropy Models and Stochastic Optimality Theory, in Annie Zaenen, Jane Simpson, Tracy Holloway King, Jane Grimshaw, Joan Maling, and Chris Manning (eds.), Architectures, Rules, and Preferences. Variations on Themes by Joan W. Bresnan, CSLI Publications, Stanford, 467-479.
Evolutionary Game Theory and Typology. A Case Study, Language 83(1), 74-109.
(with Robert van Rooij) Language structure: psychological and social constraints, Synthese 159(1), 99-130.
Evolutionary stability of games with costly signaling, in M. Aloni, P. Dekker & Floris Roelofsen (eds.), Proceedings of the 16th Amsterdam Colloquium, ILLC, University of Amsterdam, 121-126.
Only updates. On the dynamics of the focus particle only, in Maria Aloni, Alastair Butler and Paul Dekker (eds.), Questions in Dynamic Semantics, Elsevier (CRISPI series), 105-122. [reprint of my 1996 Amsterdam Colloquium paper]
Game dynamics connects semantics and pragmatics, in Ahti-Veikko Pietarinen (ed.), Game Theory and Linguistic Meaning, Elsevier, 89-102.
Partial Variables and Specificity, in Uli Sauerland and Penka Stateva (eds.), Presupposition and Implicature in Compositional Semantics, Palgrave McMillan, pp 121-162.
(with Stephan Kepser) Automata, complexity, and Optimality Theory, in Gerlof Bouma, Irene Krämer and Joost Zwarts (eds.), Cognitive Foundations of Interpretation, KNAW, Amsterdam, 95-110.
Das A und O des Sprechens, Gehirn und Geist 11/2006, 70-76.
(with Anette Rosenbach) The winner takes it all - almost. Cumulativity in grammatical variation, Linguistics 44(5), 937-971.
Convex meanings and evolutionary stability, in Angelo Cangelosi, Andrew D. M. Smith and Kenny Smith (eds.), The Evolution of Language. Proceedings of the 6th International Conference (EVOLANG6), Rome, pp 139-144.
Anton Benz, Gerhard Jäger and Robert van Rooij, eds., Game Theory and Pragmatics, Palgrave Macmillan.
Anaphora and Type Logical Grammar, Springer, Dordrecht.
(with Anton Benz and Robert van Rooij) An introduction to game theory for linguists, in A. Benz, G. Jäger and R. van Rooij (eds.), Game Theory and Pragmatics, Palgrave MacMillan, pp 1-82.
Learning Constraint Subhierarchies: The Bidirectional Gradual Learning Algorithm, in Blutner, R. and H. Zeevat, Optimality Theory and Pragmatics, Palgrave MacMillan, pp 251-287.
Alternatives or presuppositions? A comparison of the Background- Presupposition Rule with Alternative Semantics, in Theoretical Linguistics 30(1), 111-122.
Präsuppositionverarbeitung, in Carstensen, K.-U., C. Ebert, C. Endriss, S. Jekat, R. Klabunde and H. Langer (eds.) Computerlinguistik und Sprachtechnologie. Eine Einführung. 2. Auflage. Heidelberg: Spektrum, 348-355.
Residuation, Structural Rules and Context Freeness, in Journal of Logic, Language and Information 13(1), 47-59.
Evolutionary Game Theory for linguists. A primer, manuscript, Stanford University and University of Potsdam.
Towards an explanation of copula effects, in Linguistics and Philosphy 26(5), 557-593.
On the Generative Capacity of Multimodal Categorial Grammars. in Research on Language and Computation 1(1-2), pp 105-125.
Recursion by optimization: On the complexity of bidirectional Optimality Theory, in Natural Language Engineering 9(1), 21-38.
(with Reinhard Blutner) Competition and interpretation: The German adverb wieder ('again'), in E. Lang, C. Maienborn & C. Fabricius-Hansen (eds.), Modifying Adjuncts, Mouton de Gruyter, pp 393-416.
Resource sharing in Type Logical Grammar, in G.-J. Kruijf & R. T. Oehrle (eds.), Resource Sensitivity, Binding, and Anaphora, Kluwer.
Evolutionary Game Theory and Linguistic Typology: a Case Study, in P. Dekker (ed.), Proceedings of the 14th Amsterdam Colloquium, ILLC, University of Amsterdam. (6 pages)
Simulating language change with Functional OT, in Simon Kirby (ed.), Language Evolution and Computation, Proceedings of the Workshop at ESSLLI,Vienna 2003, pp 52-61.
Some notes on the formal properties of bidirectional Optimality Theory, Journal of Logic, Language and Information 11(4), 427-451.
(with Henk Zeevat) A reinterpretation of syntactic alignment. in D. de Jongh, H. Zeevat and M. Nilsenova (eds.), Proceedings of the 3rd and 4th International Symposium on Language, Logic and Computation, ILLC, Amsterdam.
On Relational Interpretation of Multimodal Categorial Logics. in D. de Jongh, H. Zeevat and M. Nilsenova (eds.), Proceedings of the 3rd and 4th International Symposium on Language, Logic and Computation, ILLC, Amsterdam.
Gradient constraints in finite state OT:The unidirectional and the bidirectional case, in I. Kaufmann and B. Stiebels (eds.), More than Words. A Festschrift for Dieter Wunderlich , Berlin, Akademie Verlag, pp 299-325.
Indefinites and Sluicing. A type logical approach, in Robert van Rooy and Martin Stokhof (eds.), Proceedings of the 13th Amsterdam Colloquium, pp 114-119.
Lambek Grammars as Combinatory Categorial Grammars. Logic Journal of the IGPL 9(6), 781-79.
Topic-comment structure and the contrast between stage level and individual level predicates, Journal of Semantics 18(2), pp 83-126.
On the semantics of as and be. A neo-Carlsonian account , in M. Kim and U. Strauss (eds.), Proceedings of NELS 31, GLSA, Amherst.
Anaphora and quantification in Categorial Grammar, in M. Moortgat (ed.), Logical Aspects of Computational Linguistics , Springer Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence 2014, Springer, pp. 70-90.
(with Reinhard Blutner):Against lexical decomposition in syntax. in A. Z. Wyner (ed.), The Israeli Association for Theoretical Linguistics. The Proceedings of the Fifteenth Annual Conference, pp 113-137, reprinted in Reinhard Blutner and Gerhard Jäger (eds.), Studies in Optimality Theory, pp 5-29, University of Potsdam.
Towards an explanation of copula effects. in R. Steinitz (ed.), ZAS Papers in Linguistics 16, pp 1-30, ZAS Berlin.
(with Robin Clark): A Categorial syntax for verbs of perception. in A. Williams and E. Kaiser (eds.), Penn Working Papers in Linguistics 6.3, pp 15-33, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
1999Deconstructing Jacobson's Z. in P. Dekker (ed.), Proceedings of the 12th Amsterdam Colloquium , pp 133-138, University of Amsterdam.
Focus without variables: a multi-modal analysis, in K. N. Shahin, S. Blake and E. Kim (eds.), Proceedings of WCCFL 17 , pp 317-331, CSLI Publications, Stanford.
Stage levels, states, and the semantics of the copula, in E. Lang and L. Geist (eds.), ZAS Papers in Linguistics 14, pp 65-94, ZAS Berlin.
Topic, focus, and weak quantifiers, in P. Bosch and R. van der Sandt (eds.), Focus: Linguistic, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives, pp 187-212, Cambridge University Press.
A Multi-Modal Analysis of Anaphora and Ellipsis, in A. Dimitriadis, H. Lee, C. Moisset & A. Williams (eds.), Penn Working Papers in Linguistics 5.2, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
Anaphora and Ellipsis in Type Logical Grammar, in P. Dekker, M. Stokhof and Y. Venema (eds.), Proceedings of the 11th Amsterdam Colloquium, pp 175-180, University of Amsterdam.
Common Grounds, Questions and Relevance. draft, University of Munich, 1997.
The stage/individual contrast revisited, in B. Agbayani and S.-W. Tang (eds.), Proceedings of WCCFL 15, pp 225-239, CSLI Publications, Stanford.
Only Updates. On the Dynamics of the Focus Particle only, in P. Dekker and M. Stokhof (eds.), Proceedings of the 10th Amsterdam Colloquium, Vol. 2, pp 387-406, ILLC, University of Amsterdam.
Topics in Dynamic Semantics. Ph.D. thesis, Humboldt- University Berlin, published as CIS-Bericht Nr. 96-92, Centrum für Informations- und Sprachverarbeitung, LMU München.
Topic, scrambling, and aktionsart, in I. Kohlhof, S. Winkler and H. B. Drubig (eds.), Proceedings of the Göttingen Focus Workshop (= Arbeitspapiere des SFB 340 "Sprachtheoretische Grundlagen für die Computerlinguistik" Nr. 69-1995), pp 19-34, Tübingen.
Weak Quantifiers and Information Structure , in J. N. Beckman (ed.), NELS 25. Proceedings of the North East Linguistic Society, Vol. 1, pp 303-318, GLSA, Amherst.

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