UMLV Summer School 2023

Banner Campus Griebnitzsee 01
Foto: ZIM | Ernst Kaczynski

Understanding and Modelling Linguistic Variability

About UMLV

Linguistic variability comes in different forms, ranging from differences between individual speakers to linguistic diversity in terms of phylogeny or structure. Examining linguistic variation allows us to better understand what constitutes linguistic knowledge and the phenomenon of language.

Linguistics exhibits a variety of subdisciplines that have developed very different methodologies and theoretical models to capture, measure, and classify linguistic variability. The summer school aims to bring different strands of research together, including psycholinguistic, neurolinguistic, computational, and various theoretical perspectives (both formal and functional). It provides a space for students and early career researchers from various fields of linguistics to learn about different approaches to linguistic variability and likewise provides a format to connect on a personal level and exchange ideas.

  • date: August 21 – 25, 2023
  • location: University of Potsdam, Campus Griebnitzsee, Germany
  • format: in-person event, live stream of workshops via Zoom
  • language of instruction: English
  • costs: 45€

Important Dates

  • applications: extended to May 31, 2023
  • notification of acceptance: June 15, 2023
  • registration: June 30, 2023
  • summer school: August 21-25, 2023



  • Prof. Kriszta Szendrői (University of Vienna, AT)„Variability in Syntactic Focus Marking“
  • Prof. João Veríssimo (University of Lisbon, PT)„Modelling within- and between-person Variability in Language Processing: Statistical Methods and Measures“

confirmed workshops

Prof. Patti Adank (University College London, UK) – „Neural Bases of Processing Variation and Degradation in Speech“

This workshop will focus on the ways in which speech can sound different when encountered in daily life and the way the brain deals with this variation. This workshop will start by defining ‚variation in speech‘ and discuss behavioural and cognitive neuroscience methods for studying how the brain processes variation during speech perception in three sessions. In Session 1, I will discuss different ways in which processing variation in speech can be studied using behavioural paradigms inspired by cognitive psychology, including response time tasks, pupillometry, and eye-tracking. In Session 2, I will start by providing a short introduction to neuroanatomy. Next I discuss four neuroimaging (fMRI, functional, Magnetic Resonance Imaging) studies that apply the paradigms and concepts from Session 1 in to neuroimaging setup. In the final session, we will run a journal club and you will get a chance to critically analyse an fMRI study investigating perception of speech in second language (L2) listeners. This workshop will make use of Mentimeter for audience response, to hear your thoughts, conduct some short quizzes, and get some general feedback.

Before the workshop, I suggest you read the paper to be discussed in the Journal Club in the 3rd session. You will have some time to read the paper in the session, but it would be good if you have had a basic understanding of the study before the session. The paper will be provided, here’s the reference: Rammell, C. S., Cheng, H., Pisoni, D. B., & Newman, S. D. (2019). L2 speech perception in noise: An fMRI study of advanced Spanish learners. Brain Research, 1720, 146316.

Finally, for those without a background in neuroscience or neuroimaging, I have added some background notes to some slides. I also recommend reading some chapters in this book:

Discussion Session with Prof. Doreen Georgi (University of Potsdam, DE) – „Biberauer, T. (2019). Factors 2 and 3: Towards a principled approach. Catalan Journal of Linguistics (Special Issue), pages 45-88.“

A discussion round on one of Dr. Theresa Biberauers recent papers will be led by Prof. Doreen Georgi (University of Potsdam), the head of the CRC 1287 on Limits of Variability in Language.

Biberauer, T. (2019). Factors 2 and 3: Towards a principled approach. Catalan Journal of Linguistics (Special Issue), pages 45-88.

The paper is strongly related to what would have been the topic of the planned workshop by Dr. Theresa Biberauer. The session will give you the opportunity to engage with the topic to some capacity and have an open discussion about it. We highly encourage you to read the paper beforehand to facilitate a more lively exchange. Dr. Biberauer also kindly offered to be available for discussions to anyone interested in the topic via email.

Prof. Florian Schwarz (University of Pennsylvania, USA) and Dr. Jeremy Zehr (University of Zurich, CH) – „Conducting Web-based experiments with PCIbex“

PCIbex ( is a platform for online behavioral experiments. It provides a simple and accessible experiment design interface, and allows sharing experiments via web browser for both data collection and Open Science resource sharing. It uses its own mini-language, which is set up to be maximally accessible while providing full control over what happens when (and where) in a given trial. The central ingredients are elements (text, images, audio, video, timers…) which can be subjected to various actions (presentation/playback…) with detailed control over timing and location. It can incorporate a diverse range of simple and complex experimental tasks with dynamic and interactive features (e.g., visual stimuli, dynamically unfolding trial structure, response feedback, scripted/ timed events, playing audio and video), and also integrates the original functionalities of its predecessor IBEX’s (Drummond 2007), including self-paced reading and rating studies. Furthermore, PCIbex offers several advanced functionalities, including audio and video recording, and an integration of the webgazer eyetracking API (Papoutsaki et al., 2016; see Slim et al. 2022 for PCIbex implementation). While these require additional initial storage-setup on the experimenter’s own server space, these capacities substantially lower the bar for deploying more sophisticated paradigms in online experimentation.

The tutorial aims to introduce PCIbex to a wide audience, with no pre-requisites or prior technical skills required, but will also be of interest to researchers with more background. The first session walks through the creation of a trial in a sample experiment combining display of un-folding text, images, and audio with different response input options. Participants can directly follow along to learn the basic syntax of the PCIbex mini-language, as well as the logic of basic trial structure, including audio and visual resources. The second session will be entirely dedicated to exercises and hands on practice to deepen participants’ understanding of working with the platform. The third session illustrates the creation of a multi-trial experiment using a template, and also goes over the integration with recruitment platforms and other practical matters of actually running experiments using PCIbex. The last part of this session will provide a brief overview and pointers towards using more advanced functionalities. Overall, the workshop aims to provide participants with a solid basis for subsequently using and exploring the platform independently to develop their own experimental projects with help from the extensive online resources available in the PCIbex documentation (

Note: In order to actively participate and engage with the platform throughout the workshop, participants should bring a laptop with Chrome or Firefox browser installed.

For a more extensive overview of the platform and a previous similar (though shorter) tutorial, see:

Schwarz, Florian & Jeremy Zehr. 2021. Tutorial: Introduction to PCIbex – An Open-Science Platform for Online Experiments: Design, Data-Collection and Code-Sharing. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society 43(43).

Slim, M.S., Hartsuiker, R.J. Moving visual world experiments online? A web-based replication of Dijkgraaf, Hartsuiker, and Duyck (2017) using PCIbex and WebGazer.js. Behav Res (2022).

Prof. Lena Jäger (University of Zurich, CH) – „Generating human-like Scanpaths in Reading using Deep Neural Sequence Models“

Deep learning methods have gained more and more relevance in various fields including psycholinguistics. In this workshop, participants will have the chance to learn about state-of-the-art deep neural models that can be used to imitate human reading behavior by generating scanpaths. The sessions will introduce all the necessary concepts from machine learning research on beginner-level and show potential use cases of such methods for research in psycholinguistics.

Since participants will complete online exercises, they are asked to (i) bring their laptops and (ii) set up a Google account before the workshop starts. Python exercises will be done in Google Colab so that no instalment of Python is required.”

Dr. Arpita Bose (University of Reading, UK) – „Adult Neurological Language Disorders and Bilingualism as a Window to Understand Linguistic Variability“

Experimental methods of linguistics afford us to better understand human cognitive processes both in health and in speech-language impairments. This workshop would focus on understanding linguistic variability by studying individuals who present language disorders following neurological impairments. I would discuss linguistic variability by bringing perspectives from two lines of investigations:

– Speech and language impairments following acquired neurological disorders (e.g., post-stroke aphasia, dementias)

– Bilingualism in acquired language disorders, especially from under-researched linguistics communities.

I would conduct the workshop through three interrelated sessions aimed at:

1. Understanding linguistic breakdown following neurological impairments, such as aphasia, dementia, apraxia of speech

2. Exploring lexical level deficits in monolingual and bilingual individuals with emphasis on disentangling linguistic and cognitive influences

3. Understanding the importance of moving beyond single word investigation to connected speech in exploring the symptomatology in post-stroke aphasia and Alzheimer’s Disease for better diagnosis and assessments.

I would bring knowledge and methodological expertise from clinical linguistics, neuropsychology, speech-language therapy, neurology and psychology. In addition to learning theoretical background on the above-mentioned topics, participants would get hands on experience in analysing linguistic data from acquired neurological disorders and learn about interpretation of these data. They would also appreciate the potential of using simple linguistic tasks to important theoretical questions about the nature of linguistic variability in monolinguals and bilingual populations. Through these sessions, I would also highlight the of importance of studying under-explored linguistically diverse communities for better theoretical and clinical understanding of linguistic diversity.

Prof. Martin Hilpert (University of Neuchâtel, CH) – „Constructional Change: Investigating Variability over Time“

This workshop will lay out how Construction Grammar can be applied to the study of language change. We will talk about the theoretical foundations, open questions, and methodological approaches that inform the constructional analysis of diachronic processes in language. The four sessions address issues such as constructionalization and constructional change, constructional networks, shifts in collocational preferences, and differentiation and attraction in the constructional network. These processes will be illustrated on the basis of studies that utilize modern corpus-linguistic methodologies and that draw on current theoretical discussions in usage-based linguistics.

No prior knowledge of Construction Grammar or corpus-based methods is required. Participants who have time to prepare are invited to download the book „Ten Lectures on Diachronic Construction Grammar“ (open access: and read the first two chapters.

We have to make the very unfortunate announcement that both Theresa Biberauer and Muriel Norde are unable to give their workshops at our summer school. The news reached us very recently and, despite our best efforts, with less than two weeks to go, we were unable to find suitable replacements. We are aware that many of you were looking forward to these workshops and cannot stress enough how sorry we are for this.

Schedule Download: here

Poster Session

To make the Summer School more interactive, the participants can present a poster on a topic related to the UMLV Summer School. By presenting a poster, participants will have the opportunity to discuss their research with a variety of people, including the keynote speakers, the instructors, the summer school attendees, and researchers from four collaborative research centres (Berlin, Cologne, Potsdam, Saarbrücken).


The UMLV Summer School is going to be an in-person event, live stream of workshops via Zoom. Therefore, in addition to the full on-site experience, we offer online attendance that grants you access to the workshops as well as all the keynote talks.

Note that while we aim to make the online experience as interactive as possible by offering a dedicated online Q&A with instructors at the end of the sessions, online attendees do not have access to the poster session, nor other socializing and networking activities such as a science networking forum and evening buffets. To make the most of the UMLV Summer School, we encourage on-site participation.


Code of conduct

UMLV is dedicated to providing a harassment-free summer school experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age or religion. We do not tolerate harassment of UMLV participants in any form. Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any summer school venue, including workshops, social events and poster presentations. UMLV participants violating these rules may be expelled from the UMLV summer school without a refund at the discretion of the conference organisers.

If you experience or witness inappropriate behaviour or feel like you or someone around you may need support, please reach out to the organisers in person or via email at

Harassment includes, but is not limited to:

  • verbal comments that reinforce social structures of domination related to gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religion
  • sexual images in public spaces
  • deliberate intimidation, stalking, or following
  • harassing photography or recording
  • sustained disruption of workshops or other events
  • inappropriate physical contact
  • unwelcome sexual attention
  • advocating for, or encouraging, any of the above behaviour

Participants asked to stop any harassing behaviour are expected to comply immediately. If a participant engages in harassing behaviour, UMLV organisers retain the right to warn the offender or expel them from the conference with no refund. We expect participants to follow these rules at all UMLV venues and UMLV-related social activities.

If someone makes you or anyone else feel unsafe or unwelcome, please report it to the organisers as soon as possible. Organisers can be identified by their orange name tags. You can make a report by contacting the organisers directly in person, or by writing us an email at At no point will you be asked to confront anyone and your identity will not be revealed to anyone except for the team members who are in touch with you. Our team will be happy to help assist you to feel safe for the duration of the event.

  • 110 (emergency police number)
  • 112 (emergency medical number)
  • 033155080 (local police number)
  • 116117 (non-emergency medical number)
  • 0331292929 (local taxi number)
  • (organising team)


University of Potsdam, Campus Griebnitzsee, House 6, August-Bebel-Str. 89, 14482 Potsdam

Travel and Transport

For ecological reasons, we recommend coming to the UMLV Summer School by public transport. The venue can be easily reached from both Potsdam and Berlin:

From Potsdam Central Station to S Griebnitzsee:

  • S-Bahn S7 (every 10 minutes)
  • RB 22 and RB 23 (once an hour)
  • Bus Number 694 (once an hour)

From Berlin Central Station to S Griebnitzsee:

  • S-Bahn S7 (every 10 minutes)
  • RB 23 (once an hour)
  • RE 1 to S Wannsee, S7 to S Griebnitzsee (once an hour)

Berlin, Potsdam and Brandenburg established a cooperation of their public transportation system called the Verkehrsverbund Berlin Brandenburg (VBB). Using the website of the VBB, you can find the fastest connection to all stops in the whole area of Berlin and Brandenburg.

Public Transportation in Potsdam:

Public Transportation in Berlin:


Participants are expected to arrange their own accommodation. Here are some recommendations:

Hostels & Hotels in Potsdam:

Hostels & Hotels Berlin:

Assistance and Childcare

The venue of the summer school is barrier-free. Do you need mobility assistance on the day of the event? Please do not hesitate to contact us.

There is an app available navigating you around campus with maximized accessibility:

Do you need assistance with childcare? Further information is coming soon.


Please feel free to contact our summer school committee in case of questions!

Please visit this website for more details and updates coming soon!


  • Dr. Sina Bosch
  • Sabia Costantini
  • Dr. phil. Andreas Hölzl
  • Timea Szarvas
  • Kathleen Schneider