Picture of Martin Kohlberger

Martin Kohlberger PhD

Assistant Professor

Faculty Member in Linguistics

Arts 922

Research Area(s)

  • Chicham languages, Indigenous languages of the Americas
  • Language documentation and description
  • Language contact and areal typology
  • Variation and language change
  • Grammaticalization
  • Phonetics and Phonology
  • Morphology
  • Syntax


Kohlberger, Martin. 2018. A cline between nouns and verbs: Nominalizations in Shiwiar (Chicham). STUF – Language Typology and Universals. 71(1), 151-168. https://doi.org/10.1515/stuf-2018-0007

Stewart, Jesse, and Martin Kohlberger. 2017. Earbuds: A Method for Analyzing Nasality in the Field. Language Documentation & Conservation. 11, 49-80. https://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/handle/10125/24724/stewart_kohlberger.pdf

Strycharczuk, Patrycja, and Martin Kohlberger. 2016. Resyllabification Reconsidered: On the Durational Properties of Word-Final /s/ in Spanish. Laboratory Phonology: Journal of the Association for Laboratory Phonology. 7(1):3, 1-24. https://doi.org/10.5334/labphon.5

Kohlberger, Martin. 2016. Prescriptivism as a nation-building tool in the Upper Amazon: the case of Shiwiar. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development. 37(1): 263-273. https://doi.org/10.1080/01434632.2015.1068785

Kohlberger, Martin, and Patrycja Strycharczuk. 2015. Voicing assimilation in whispered speech. In The Scottish Consortium for ICPhS 2015 (Ed.), Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.  http://www.icphs2015.info/pdfs/Papers/ICPHS1016.pdf

Teaching & Supervision

Graduate courses taught:

Field and Laboratory Phonetics (2015, Leiden University)

Field Phonetics and Laboratory Phonology (2014, Leiden University)

Undergraduate courses taught:

LING 111 - The Structure of Language (Winter 2021)

LING 253 - Indigenous Languages of Canada (Fall 2020)

Language Documentation (2013, Leiden University)

Summer/winter school courses taught:

Amazonian Languages: Diversity, Typology, Historical Change and Language Contact (2019, Linguistic Institute 2019, University of California, Davis)

Fonética de campo (2016, Amazonicas VI, Amazonas State University, Tabatinga)

Field Phonetics (2015, Leiden Summer School in Languages and Linguistics 2015, Leiden University)

Technology for Linguistic Fieldwork (2014, Leiden Summer School in Languages and Linguistics 2014, Leiden University)

Phonetic Theory and Field Phonetics (2013, Leiden Summer School in Languages and Linguistics 2013, Leiden University)


Chicham languages Indigenous languages of the Americas Shiwiar areal typology language change language contact language documentation morphology phonetics phonology syntax variation

I am fascinated by linguistic diversity, especially in the context of American Indigenous languages.  The overarching aim of my research is to understand linguistic structures by analysing their function in natural speech and uncovering the various processes that shaped them over time.  In particular, I am interested in the social, interactive and discursive underpinnings of language change.  Most of my research is based on corpora of spontaneous conversational data.

One of the top priorities of my work is the documentation and description of endangered languages.  The geographic area that I have primarily worked in is the foothills of the eastern Andes mountains and the lowlands of the western Amazon basin, one of the most linguistically diverse regions in South America.  I have worked for over a decade together with members of the Shiwiar Nation to document Shiwiar, a Chicham (Jivaroan) language spoken in eastern Ecuador and northern Peru.  I am also currently developing relationships with other communities (particularly the Kamsá Nation in Colombia, as well as First Nations and Métis communities in Saskatchewan), and I look forward to the projects that might ensue from these new collaborations.

I have a broad range of interests within linguistics.  Most of my published work so far has revolved around articulatory and acoustic phonetics, focusing in particular on nasalisation, co-articulation, whispered speech and resyllabification.  However, most of my current strands of research are in the areas of morphology, syntax and areal typology.  The main themes that I seek to explore in my work are variation and contact, especially with regards to language change.

Education & Training

PhD in Linguistics (2020), A Grammatical Description of Shiwiar

MA (Honours) (First Class) in Linguistics (2010), Cotopaxi Quichua: A Phonological Description and an Analysis of Stops and Affricates in Central Highland Ecuadorian Quichua