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Press Release No. 30 | 4 June 2007
Travelling Exhibit on Language Research

DFG-funded Projects Presented On Board the MS Wissenschaft

From 5 June to 17 October, the "Science in Dialog" exhibition ship will be underway between Kiel and Passau, presenting current topics from language research under the motto "Language is more than words". For the first time, projects funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) will be on board. Not only will completed work be shown, but there will also be research carried out on the ship itself. Visitors to the exhibition along the ship's route can take part in a pilot study of language change. Other exhibits include interactive reading and listening stations on the history of the German language and a virtual presentation of the "Cassette Histories" exhibition, which deals with the phenomenon of the mix tape.

"How modern is your German?" asks a language test, which has been specially developed for the tour of the MS Wissenschaft and which checks the language competence of individuals from different regions of the country. It is part of a research project on changes in the German language of the present, which is being conducted by the linguist Karin Donhauser at the Humboldt University in Berlin. This pilot study aims to examine how particular linguistic innovations have been disseminated around the country and whether they can be recorded using large-scale, standardised surveys. The results will be scientifically evaluated and made available on the internet in autumn when the ship has completed its tour.

Another presentation, also developed by Karin Donhauser and exhibited in the German Historical Museum, enables a look back over the development of the German language. With the aid of texts such as the Song of the Nibelungs and the Luther Bible, and even the first German cookbook, the presentation gives a comprehensive overview of German literary tradition, from the beginning of the written tradition to the emergence of the New High German standard language in the 18th century. Changes to the language are not only presented in written form, but can also be experienced as audio samples.

Under the supervision of Gerrit Herlyn and Thomas Overdick, the findings of the Hamburg research school "Kulturwissenschaftliche Technikforschung" (Cultural Studies of Technology) will be featured in a virtual presentation of the exhibition "Cassette Histories: On People and their Mixtapes." Following stopovers in Germany and Switzerland, the exhibition has now been prepared as an individual exhibit for the ship. Based on the example of 21 biographies, it demonstrates the importance of tapes that are arranged and played for personal enjoyment, as an archive of memory, as a medium of communication and as a bearer of popular culture for the generation that is today between 20 and 40 years old.

Information on the exhibits:

  • Language test "How modern is your German?" and "Reading and listening stations on the history of the German language", Prof. Dr. Karin Donhauser, Institute for German Language and Linguistics, Humboldt University in Berlin, Tel. +49 30 2093-9635, E-mail: karin.donhauser@rz.hu-berlin.de
  • "Cassette Histories: On People and their Mixtapes", Gerrit Herlyn, Institute for Ethnology, University of Hamburg, Tel.: +49 40 42838-6515, E-mail: herlyn@uni-hamburg.de

The MS Wissenschaft is a project organised by "Science in Dialog" and is financially supported by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research.

Further Information

Further details about the exhibition and the route can be found at