Language and Learning

Dr. Sonja Eisenbeiß

Research Associate

Phone: 49 (0) 221-470 1145

Dr. Sonja Eisenbeiß has been a research associate in the Language and Learning Department of the Mercator Institute since February 2020, and a research associate and lecturer in the Department of General Linguistics at the University of Cologne since October 2016. In her research and teaching, she focuses on child language development, the role of parents and siblings in language acquisition and the learning and comprehension of words. Other focal points are language games and methods for the collection, archiving and quantitative analysis of language data. Previously, Sonja Eisenbeiß worked as a research associate and lecturer at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen (Netherlands), and at the University of Essex (Great Britain). Since 2019 she has also been a guest lecturer at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences in the field of applied social sciences.


3.12 (3rd floor, Triforum)

Consultation hour

by appointment on Monday mornings, Tuesday or Wednesday



  • child language development
  • the role of parents and siblings in language acquisition 
  • the learning and comprehension of words
  • language games 
  • methods for the collection, archiving and quantitative analysis of language data

Since 2016: member of the project "Documenting child language: The Qaqet of Papua New Guinea"


  • Montero-Melis, Guillermo, Sonja Eisenbeiss, Bhuvana Narasimhan, Iraide Ibarretxe-Antuñano, Sotaro Kita, Anetta Kopecka, Friederike Lüpke, Tatiana Nikitina, Ilona Tragel, T. Florian Jaeger & Juergen Bohnemeyer. 2017. Satellite- vs. verb-framing underpredicts nonverbal motion categorization: Insights from a large language sample and simulationsCognitive Semantics 3(1). 36-61. 
  • Pareek, Benu, Ayesha Kidwai & Sonja Eisenbeiss. 2016. Verb Agreement in Hindi and its AcquisitionOnline Proceedings of the Formal Approaches to South Asian Languages, 1 (FASAL).
  • Kgolo, Naledi & Sonja Eisenbeiss. 2015. The role of morphological structure in the processing of complex forms: Evidence from Setswana deverbative nouns. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 30(9). 1116-1133.
  • Eisenbeiss, Sonja. 2015. Syntax and Language Acquisition. In Tibor Kiss & Artemis Alexiadou (eds.), Syntax - theory and analysis. An international handbook, 2nd edn, 1792-1832. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Eisenbeiss, Sonja & Ingrid Sonnenstuhl. 2011. A CHAT-based annotation scheme for case and noun-phrase inflection in child language data. Essex Research Reports in Linguistics 60(3).
  • Eisenbeiss, Sonja & Ingrid Sonnenstuhl. 2011. Transcription conventions for the Eisenbeiss German child language corpora. Essex Research Reports in Linguistics 60(2).
  • Eisenbeiss, Sonja. 2011. CEGS: An elicitation tool kit for studies on case marking and its acquisition. Essex Research Reports in Linguistics 60(1).
  • Eisenbeiss, Sonja. 2009. Generative Approaches to Language Learning. Linguistics 47(2). 273–310.
  • Eisenbeiss, Sonja. 2009. Contrast is the name of the game: Contrast-based semi-structured elicitation techniques for studies on children’s language acquisition. Essex Research Reports in Linguistics 57(7).
  • Narasimhan, Bhuvana, Sonja Eisenbeiss & Penelope Brown. 2007. ‘‘Two's company, more is a crowd”: the linguistic encoding of multiple-participant events. Linguistics45(3). 383-392. (Special Issue, edited together with Bhuvana Narasimhan and Penelope Brown)
  • Eisenbeiss, Sonja. 2007. The lexical learning hypothesis. Essex Research Reports in Linguistics 54. 1-4.
  • Bohnemeyer, Jürgen, Sonja Eisenbeiss & Bhuvana Narasimhan. 2006. Ways to go: Methodological considerations in Whorfian studies on motion events. Essex Research Reports in Linguistics 50. 1-20.
  • Eisenbeiss, Sonja, Susanne Bartke & Harald Clahsen. 2005/2006. Structural and lexical case in child German: Evidence from language-impaired and typically-developing children. Language Acquisition13. 3-32.
  • Penke, Martina, Ulrike Janssen & Sonja Eisenbeiss. 2004. Psycholinguistic evidence for the underspecification of morphosyntactic features. Brain and Language 90. 423-433.
  • Clahsen, Harald, Sonja Eisenbeiss, Meike Hadler & Ingrid Sonnenstuhl. 2001. The mental representation of inflected words: An experimental study of adjectives and verbs in German. Language 77. 510-543.
  • Bowerman, Melissa, Penny Brown, Sonja Eisenbeiss, Bhuvana Narasimhan & Dan Slobin. 2004. “Putting things in places”: Effekte linguistischer Typologie auf die Sprachentwicklung. [“Putting things in places”: Developmental consequences of linguistic typology.]. In Gottfried Plehn (ed.), Max-Planck-Gesellschaft Jahrbuch 2004. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht.
  • Eisenbeiss, Sonja. 2003. Merkmalsgesteuerter Grammatikerwerb. Eine Untersuchung zum Erwerb der Struktur und Flexion der Nominalphrase. [‘Feature-Driven Structure Building. A Study on the Acquisition of Noun-Phrase Structure and Inflection.’] PhD Dissertation, University of Düsseldorf.
  • Clahsen, Harald, Ingrid Sonnenstuhl, Meike Hadler & Sonja Eisenbeiss. 2001. Morphological paradigms in language processing and language disorders. Transactions of the Philological Society 99(2). 247-278.
  • Sonnenstuhl, Ingrid, Sonja Eisenbeiss & Harald Clahsen. 1999. Morphological priming in the German mental lexicon. Cognition72. 203-236.
  • Clahsen, Harald, Sonja Eisenbeiss & Ingrid Sonnenstuhl-Henning. 1997. Morphological structure and the processing of inflected words. Theoretical Linguistics 23(3). 201-249.
  • Dobel, Christian, Reinhild Glanemann, Pienie Zwitserlood & Sonja Eisenbeiss. 2011. Visual encoding of coherent and non-coherent scenes. In Jürgen Bohnemeyer & Eric Pederson (eds.), Event representation in language and cognition, 189-215. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Slobin, Dan, Melissa Bowerman, Penelope Brown, Sonja Eisenbeiss & Bhuvana Narasimhan. 2011.Putting things in places: Developmental consequences of linguistic typology. In Jürgen Bohnemeyer & Eric Pederson (eds.), Event representation in language and cognition, 134-165. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Eisenbeiss, Sonja. 2011. Lexical learning hypothesis. In Patrick Hogan (ed.), The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the Language Sciences.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Eisenbeiss, Sonja. 2010. Production methods. In Elma Blom & Sharon Unsworth (eds.), Experimental methods in language acquisition research, 11-34. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Eisenbeiss, Sonja, Ayumi Matsuo & Ingrid Sonnenstuhl. 2009. Learning to encode possession. In William McGregor (ed.), The expression of possession, 143-211. Berlin: deGruyter.
  • Eisenbeiss, Sonja, Bhuvana Narasimhan & Maria Voeikova. 2008. The acquisition of case. In Andrej Malchukov & Andrew Spencer (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Case, 369-383. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Bowerman, Melissa, Penelope Brown, Sonja Eisenbeiss, Bhuvana Narasimhan & Dan Slobin. 2003. The crosslinguistic encoding of goal-directed motion in child-caregiver discourse. Online Proceedings of the Child Language Research Forum 2002, Stanford University.
  • Clahsen, Harald, Peter Prüfert, Sonja Eisenbeiss & Joana Cholin. 2002. Strong stems in the German mental lexicon: Evidence from child language acquisition and adult processing. In Ingrid Kaufmann & Barbara Stiebels (eds.), More than Words. A Festschrift for Dieter Wunderlich, 91-112. Berlin: Akadamie Verlag.
  • Eisenbeiss, Sonja. 2000. The acquisition of the DP in German. In Luigi Rizzi & Marc-Ariel Friedemann (eds.), Acquisition of syntax. Issues in developmental linguistic, 27-62. Harlow, UK: Longman.
  • Eisenbeiss, Sonja, Harald Clahsen & Martina Penke. 1996. Lexical learning in early syntactic development. In Harald Clahsen (ed.), Generative perspectives on language acquisition: Empirical findings, theoretical considerations and crosslinguistic comparisons, 129-159. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Clahsen, Harald, Sonja Eisenbeiss & Anne Vainikka. 1994. The seeds of structure: A syntactic analysis of the acquisition of case marking. In Teun Hoekstra & Bonnie D. Schwartz (eds.), Language acquisition studies in generative grammar, 85-118. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Eisenbeiss, Sonja. 1994. Kasus und Wortstellungsvariation im deutschen Mittelfeld. Theoretische Überlegungen und Untersuchungen zum Erstspracherwerb. In Brigitta Haftka (ed.), Was determiniert Wortstellungsvariation? Studien zu einem Interaktionsfeld von Grammatik, Pragmatik und Sprachtypologie, 277-298. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag.
  • Eisenbeiss, S. 1994. Auxiliaries and the acquisition of the passive. In Eve V. Clark (ed.), The Proceedings of the 25th Annual Child Language Research Forum, 235-242. Stanford: CSLI.
  • Eisenbeiss, Sonja. 1994. Elizitation von Nominalphrasen und Kasusmarkierungen. [‘Elicitation of Noun Phrases and Case Markers’]. In Sonja Eisenbeiss, Susanne Bartke, Helga Weyerts & Harald Clahsen (eds.), Elizitationsverfahren in der Spracherwerbsforschung: Nominalphrasen, Kasus, Plural, Partizipien. Theorie des Lexikons. Arbeitspapiere des SFB 282, 57, 1-38.