Research

  The main research areas of the department are:

  • onomastics (socio-onomastics, political and literary onomastics, theory of proper names, research in toponyms);
  • quantitative linguistics (quantitative text analysis, quantitative syntax);
  • research of sociolects (slang, argot).

  Onomastics Onomastics is branch of linguistics with a wide interdisciplinary scope (history, geography, sociology, anthropology), which focuses on proper names (names of people – anthroponyms, place names – toponyms, names of institutions and manmade products – chrematonyms). It studies proper names – or propria – from the perspective of their functions in communication (e.g., using names and their forms in different communication situations and social groups, political and ideological influences to be discovered in names, etc.), as well as from the point of view of their nature of linguistic units in the strict sense of the word (etymology, word-formation, grammatical features, variants, stylistic markedness, etc.). The tradition of Ostrava’s onomastic research was founded by Professor Rudolf Šrámek and Associate Professor Naděžda Bayerová in 1973, when the first onomastic seminar took place here. Nowadays, the “Ostrava School of Onomastics” develops the ideas of Šrámek’s functional and communication-based approach to research of proper names, predominantly toponyms, which it enriches with new views and concepts (language landscape, political onomastics, corpus and quantitative analyses). The basic Czech journal focusing on onomastics is Acta Onomastica (Published by the Institute for the Czech Language, CAS, v. v. i.). A sample of onomastic research: Jaroslav David – Czech Street Names: The Tendencies of Development in Modern Times (2011).   Quantitative Linguistics It is a broad interdisciplinary field of linguistics, which typically makes use of mathematical and statistical methods in language sciences. Generally speaking, the attribute “quantitative” has slowly been losing its sense, as contemporary linguistic research is mostly based on experimental methods, and using mathematics and statistics has become a must. Our department’s research is predominantly based upon the conception elaborated by Gabriel Altmann and Reinhard Köhler, which focuses on finding fundamental mechanisms of language functioning – language laws (e.g., Zipf’s laws, Menzerath–Altmann Law, etc.). Particularly, we focus on syntax and stylometry (quantitative stylistics). The basic journals in the domain are Journal of Quantitative Linguistics, Glottotheory, or Glottometrics. A sample of quantitative research is to be found in Radek Čech et al.’s Methods of Quantitative Analysis of (Not Only) Poetic Texts (2014).   Sociolectology Sociolectology is a branch of linguistics with a significant interdisciplinary intersection with sociology; it treats using non-standard linguistic forms employed in oral unofficial and semi-official communications of various groups of people (slang, argot). Ostrava’s research in sociolects was founded by Professor Jaroslav Hubáček, who focused mostly on slang and professional language issues. At the present-day Department of the Czech Language, the attention is predominantly paid to expressions used by people at odds with the legal system (the convicted; drug users, distributions, and producers). We do fieldwork in collecting language material, being interested in communication functioning of given lexical means, and in their word-formation. Sociolects have been a traditional focus of Plzeň conferences on slang and argot (1977, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1995, 1998, 2003, 2008, 2014). A sample of sociolectological work at the Department: Lucie Radková – The Ways People Speak behind the Walls of Czech Prisons (2012).