Prof. Dr. Alena Witzlack-Makarevich

Juniorprofessur Typologie und sprachliche Variation

Curriculum Vitae

University education

  • September 2006–May 2010 University of Leipzig: PhD student. Thesis: "Typological Variation in Grammatical Relations".
  • 2001–2006 University of Leipzig: MA program in Linguistics, English studies and German as a foreign language. Thesis: "Aspects of information structure in Richtersveld Nama"
  • 1996–2000 Linguistic University of Minsk, Belarus: English studies


Work experience

  • April 2011–April 2013 Postdoctoral research fellow, University of Zurich, project: Typological Variance in the Processing of Grammatical Relations
  • Juni 2010–March 2011 Postdoctoral research fellow, University of Leipzig, project: Typological Variance in the Processing of Grammatical Relations (Leipzig Research Group on the Grammar and Processing of Verbal Arguments)
  • May 2006–May 2010 Research assistant in the project Typological Variance in the Processing of Grammatical Relations (Leipzig Research Group on the Grammar and Processing of Verbal Arguments) since October 2007 Research assistant in the project "A text documentation of N|uu" (MPI-EVA, Leipzig)
  • 2004–2006 Student assistant in the project Expression of Focus in Southern African Languages (ZAS, Berlin) under the supervision of Tom Güldemann: work on Richtersveld Nama (Central Khoisan), including language documentation, text collection, investigations in morphology, syntax and sociolinguistics
  • 2005–2006 Work on the database of Proto-Iranian word roots under the supervision of Donald Stilo (MPI-EVA, Leipzig)
  • August 2003 Internship under the supervision of Helma van den Berg (MPI-EVA, Leipzig): development of the database of loanwords in Dargi
  • 2002–2004 Student assistant in AUTOTYP research program (work on following projects and topics: NP structures, negation, grammatical markers, word domains, typological maps); transcription, glossing and analysis of Pear Stories for the Chechen Narratives Project


Linguistic fieldwork

  • 2016, 2017, 2018 Luruuli/Lunyara (Great Lakes Bantu) in Kiryandongo and Nakasongola Districts (Uganda), 8 weeks, 6 weeks planned for 2018
  • 2007, 2011, 2014, 2015 Nǀuu (Tuu) and Orange River Afrikaans in Upington/Andriesvale (Northern Cape, South Africa), total of 25 weeks
  • 2004, 2005, 2011 Nama/Khoekhoe (Khoe-Kwadi) in Kuboes (Northern Cape, South Africa), total of 22 weeks


Fellowships, Grants and Awards

  • 2013 Graduate Campus Grant (GRC, University of Zurich) for a workshop on "Landscape through the prism of language" (with Giorgio Iemmolo, Curdin Derungs and Flurina Wartmann)
  • 2011 Teaching staff mobility grant of International Relations – North-South Cooperation (University of Zurich) to teach at Makerere-Zurich Summer school, Makerere (Uganda) 1–15 August 2011


Workshop organization

  • August 31–September 3, 2017 Workshop at SLE 49 on The crosslinguistic diversity of antipassives: Function, meaning and structure (University of Naples Federico II, with Katarzyna Janic)
  • April 5–6, 2014 The Diachronic Typology of Differential Argument Marking (University of Konstanz, with Ilja A. Seržant)
  • June 1, 2013 Landscape through the prism of language (with Giorgio Iemmolo, Curdin Derungs and Flurina Wartmann)
  • September 8–11, 2011 Workshop at SLE 2011 on Referential Hierarchies in Alignment Typology (Logroño, with Balthasar Bickel and Anna Siewierska)
  • December 10–11, 2010 Workshop on The Fine Structure of Grammatical Relations (University of Leipzig, with Petr Biskup)
  • August 28–29, 2010 EuroBABEL Workshop on Referential hierarchy effects on the morphosyntax of verbal arguments (University of Leipzig, with Robert Schikowski)
  • March 2010 Meeting of the EuroBABEL project Referential Hiararchies in Morphosyntax (University of Leipzig, with Balthasar Bickel and Robert Schikowski)
  • April 2007 Workshop on Grammar and Processing of Verbal Arguments (University of Leipzig, with Gereon Müller and Andreas Opitz)
  • August 2006 Conference on Historical linguistics and hunter-gatherer populations in global perspective (MPI-EVA Leipzig, with Tom Güldemann)


Edited volumes

In preparation

  • Janic, K., A. Witzlack-Makarevich and D. Creissels. The multifaceted nature of antipassive.


  • Seržant, I. A. and A. Witzlack-Makarevich. The diachronic typology of differential argument marking. Berlin: Language Science Press. (draft)
  • Witzlack-Makarevich, A. and B. Bickel. Argument selectors: New perspectives on grammatical relations. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. (Typological studies in language)


  • Haude, K. and A. Witzlack-Makarevich. 2016. Referential hierarchies in morphosyntax. Linguistics 54:3. (Guest editors of a special issue)


  • Witzlack-Makarevich, A. and M. Ernszt. 2013. Khoisan Languages and Linguistics. Proceedings of the 3rd International Symposium July 79, 2008, Riezlern/Kleinwalsertal. Cologne: Rüdiger Köppe. (link)



In preparation

  • Namyalo, S., A. Witzlack-Makarevich, Z. Molochieva, A. Atuhairwe and A. Kiriggwajjo. A Luruuli/Lunyara dictionary with a grammar sketch. (Project description)




In preparation

  • Lind Sørensen, M.-L. and A. Witzlack-Makarevich. Complementation strategies in Luruuli/Lunyara.
  • Seifert, F., J. Strunk, S. Danielsen, I. Hartmann, B. Pakendorf, S. Wichmann, A. Witzlack-Makarevich, N. de Jong and B. Bickel. Speech tempo variation universally determined by the use of nouns and verbs.
  • Witzlack-Makarevich, A. Khoisan languages. In Oxford Bibliographies in Lingustics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Witzlack-Makarevich, A. Clause-linkage in Nǀuu. In W. McGregor (ed.). Complex sentences in Khoisan
  • Witzlack-Makarevich, A., B. Bickel, L. Bierkandt and T. Zakharko. Alignment across the lexicon.


  • Witzlack-Makarevich, A. Idiolectal and dialectal variation in Nǁng. In Brenzinger, M. and S. Shah (eds.). The past and present of the Nǀuu language and its speakers.
  • Witzlack-Makarevich, A. Argument selectors: New perspective on grammatical relations. In Witzlack-Makarevich, A. and B. Bickel (eds.). Argument selectors: New perspectives on grammatical relations. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. (Typological studies in language) (draft)
  • Witzlack-Makarevich, A. and H. Nakagawa. Linguistic features and typologies in languages commonly referred to as "Khoisan". In Wolff, E. (ed.). The Cambridge Handbook of African Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (draft)
  • Witzlack-Makarevich, A. and I. A. Seržant. Differential argument marking: Patterns of variation. In Seržant, I. A. and A. Witzlack-Makarevich (eds.). The diachronic typology of differential argument marking. Berlin: Language Science Press. (draft)


  • Haude, K. and A. Witzlack-Makarevich. Referential hierarchies and alignment: An overview. In Linguistics 54 (3): 433–441.
  • van Lier, E., A. Witzlack-Makarevich and J. Jansen. Referential and lexical factors in alignment variation of trivalent verbs. In Linguistics 54 (3): 563–616.
  • Witzlack-Makarevich, A., T. Zakharko, L. Bierkandt, F. Zúñiga and B. Bickel. Decomposing hierarchical alignment: Co-arguments as conditions on alignment and the limits of referential hierarchies as explanations in verb agreement. In Linguistics 54 (3): 531–561.


  • Bickel, B., A. Witzlack-Makarevich, T. Zakharko and G. Iemmolo. 2015. Exploring diachronic universals of agreement: Alignment patterns and zero marking across person categories. In Fleischer, J., E. Rieken and P. Widmer (eds.). Agreement from a diachronic perspective, 29–52. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
  • Bickel, B., A. Witzlack-Makarevich and T. Zakharko. 2015. Typological evidence against universal effects of referential scales on case alignment. In Bornkessel-Schlesewsky, I., A. Malchukov and M. Richards (eds.). Scales: A cross-disciplinary perspective on referential hierarchies, 7–44 Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Bickel, B., A. Witzlack-Makarevich, K. K. Choudhary, M. Schlesewsky and I. Bornkessel-Schlesewsky. 2015. The neurophysiology of language processing shapes the evolution of grammar: evidence from case marking. PLoS ONE 10(8): e0132819. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0132819
  • Ernszt, M., A. Witzlack-Makarevich and T. Güldemann. 2015. Valency in Nǁng. In Malchukov, A. and B. Comrie (eds.). Valency Classes in the World’s Languages. Volume 1: Introducing the Framework, and Case Studies from Africa and Eurasia, 185–220. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
  • Marquard, C., O. Niebuhr and A. Witzlack-Makarevich. 2015. Phonetic reduction of clicks – Evidence from Nǀuu. In Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences. Glasgow, UK: University of Glasgow. Paper number 0240.


  • Bickel, B., T. Zakharko, L. Bierkandt and A. Witzlack-Makarevich. Semantic role clustering: An empirical assessments of semantic role types. Studies in Language 38:3, 485–511.




Recent presentations and posters


  • Witzlack-Makarevich, A., T. Zakharko and J. Nichols. Late aggregation as a design principle for typological databases. Vortrag auf der Tagung 12th Conference of the Association for Linguistic Typology (ALT 12), Canberra, Australien, 12. bis 14. Dezember 2017.
  • Witzlack-Makarevich, A., L. Bierkandt and F. Zúñiga. Competition in verbal agreement paradigm: Are conflicts resolved in a systematic and historically stable way? Vortrag auf der Tagung The 50th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea (SLE), Zurich, 10. bis 13. September 2017.


  • Witzlack-Makarevich, A. Typologizing restrictions on agreement: Agreement suspension in the languages of Africa and beyond. An invited talk at Afrikalinguistisches Kolloquium, Seminar für Afrikawissenschaften, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 12th of January 2016.
  • Witzlack-Makarevich, A. Typological Variation of Grammatical Relations. An invited talk at the Linguistics Department of Aarhus University, 2nd of February 2016.
  • Güldemann, T. and A. Witzlack-Makarevich. 2016. Towards a comprehensive annotated corpus of Shona: design, compilation and possible applications. Presented at the workshop Changing patterns in the Shona novel from Zimbabwe: A linguistic literary analysis (Chinhoyi University of Technology, 23rd February 2016).
  • Witzlack-Makarevich, A. Using corpora for grammar writing and dictionary making. An invited talk at the Makerere University, 27th of March 2016.
  • Witzlack-Makarevich, A. From fieldwork to a reference grammar: do's and don'ts of writing a grammar of an endangered language. An invited talk at the Makerere University, 27th of March 2016.
  • Sands, B. and A. Witzlack-Makarevich. Towards a dictionary of Nǀuu. Presented at "Challenges of Electronic Dictionary Publication“. University of Leipzig. 8–9 April 2016. (abstract, slides)
  • Janic, K. and A. Witzlack-Makarevich. The crosslinguistic diversity of antipassives: function, meaning and structure. Presented at SLE 2016 (49th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea), 31 August–3 September 2016. University of Naples Federico II, Naples.
  • Neshcheret, N. and A. Witzlack-Makarevich. Passives with intransitive verbs: typology and distribution. Presented at PLM2016 (46th Poznań Linguistic Meeting), 15–17 September 2016, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań.
  • Witzlack-Makarevich, A. Typological variation of grammatical relations: How to capture it and what it tells us. Presented at "Typology of Morphosyntactic parameters", 12th of October 2016, Moscow State University of Education.


  • Bickel, B., J. Strunk, S. Danielsen, I. Hartmann, B. Pakendorf, S. Wichmann, A. Witzlack-Makarevich, T. Zakharko and F. Seifart. Noun-to-verb ratio and word order. Diversity linguistics: retrospect and prospect, 1–3 May 2015 (MPI EVA, Leipzig, Germany)
  • Güldemann, T. and A. Witzlack-Makarevich. Socio-historical classification of Khoekhoe groups. Presented at “Speaking (of) Khoisan: A symposium reviewing southern African prehistory". MPI EVA, Leipzig, 14–16 May 2015. (link)


  • Witzlack-Makarevich, A., B. Bickel and T. Zakharko. Typological evidence against universal effects of referential scales on differential case marking. Conference on The Diachronic Typology of Differential Argument Marking. University of Konstanz.
  • Marquard, C., O. Niebuhr and A. Witzlack-Makarevich. Acoustic characteristics and variation of clicks in the endangered language Nǀuu. 14th International Conference on Laboratory Phonology, Tokyo, Japan. Poster.
  • Seifart, F., J. Strunk, B. Bickel, B. Pakendorf, A. Witzlack-Makarevich, I. Hartmann, S. Danielsen, S. Wichmann and T. Zakharko: Noun to verb ratio and word order. 8th Days of Swiss Linguistics. Universität Zürich.
  • Bickel, B., J. Strunk, S. Danielsen, I. Hartmann, B. Pakendorf, S. Wichmann, A. Witzlack-Makarevich, T. Zakharko and F. Seifart. Noun-to-verb ratio and word order. Diversity linguistics: retrospect and prospect, 1–3 May 2015 (MPI EVA, Leipzig, Germany)


Databases and electronic corpora



  • Witzlack-Makarevich, A. and C. Kász. 2014. Review of Impersonal Constructions: A Cross-Linguistic Perspective ed. by Andrej Malchukov, Anna Siewierska (review). Anthropological Linguistics 56:2, 226–228.
  • Witzlack-Makarevich, A. 2008. Review of Brahui, a Dravidian Language (2006) by Mikhail S. Andronov, (Lincom: München) in LinguistList 16 December 2008.
  • Witzlack-Makarevich, A. 2008. Review of Exploring the Syntax-Semantics Interface (2005) by Robert D. Van Valin, Jr. (Cambridge University Press) in Linguistische Berichte 213, pp. 117–120.
  • Witzlack-Makarevich, A. 2007. Review of The Tujia Language (2006) by Cecilia Brassett, Philip Brassett and Meiyan Lu (Lincom: München) in LinguistList 29 January 2007.




Running projects

  • 2017–2020: German partner in the project Luruuli/Lunyara-English dictionary with a descriptive basic grammar for language revitalisation and enhancement of mother-tongue based education (Volkswagen Stiftung, Funding Initiative Knowledge for Tomorrow – Cooperative Research Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, PI Saudah Namyalo)
  • 2016– : A member of GramBank (part of GlottoBank), Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (Jena), leader of Kiel Team (
  • 2016–2019: A member of the project Khoisan phonological typology project. JSPS Grant-in-aid for Scientific Research (KAKENHI), PI Hirosi Nakagawa (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies)
  • 2002– : I am a member of AUTOTYP typological database network (Directors: Balthasar Bickel and Johanna Nichols). As part of this cooperation I co-developed a database on grammatical relations and compiled several datasets.
  • 2012– : The relative frequencies of nouns, pronouns, and verbs cross-linguistically funded by Volkswagen-Stiftung (DOBES-Program). Further details can be found on the project website.

Completed projects

  • 2006–2013: I was a member of the project Typological Variance in the Processing of Grammatical Relations (part of DFG Forschergruppe 742 Grammatik und Verarbeitung verbaler Argument, University of Leipzig).
  • 2009–2012: I was a member of the EuroBABEL Project Referential Hierarchies in Morphosyntax: description, typology, diachrony (Coordinator: Katharina Haude). As part of this cooperation I co-authored several research papers and presentations and organized three workshops.
  • 2007–2012: I was a member of the project A text documentation of Nǀuu and completed multiple fieldtrips in South Africa.
  • 2004–2006: I was a member of the research project Expression of Focus in Southern African Languages (ZAS, Berlin, coordinator Tom Güldemann) and investigated the information structure of Richtersveld Nama (a variety of Nama/Khoekhoe (Central Khoisan) spoken in Northern Cape, RAS) as my MA thesis project. I conducted two extended fieldwork trips and collected a corpus of Richtersveld Nama Pear Stories. I sporadically continue working on this language and carried out another fieldwork trip in 2011 to work on the questionnaires for The Kalahari Basin area project.