Anja Wanner

7103 Helen C. White Hall
E-mail Anja Wanner
Syntax, theory of grammar, text/genre analysis, linguistic prescriptivism, computer-mediated communication.

Degrees and Institutions

Ph.D., University of Goettingen, 1999
M.A., University of Goettingen, 1992

Selected Publications

  • Syntactic Variation and Genre, Berlin/New York: De Gruyter Mouton (Ed., 2010).
  • Deconstructing the English Passive, Berlin/New York: De Gruyter Mouton (2009).
  • “Formulaic Argumentation in Scientific Discourse.” In: Roberta Corrigan et al. (Eds., 2009): Formulaic Language. Vol. 2. 523-544. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. (co-authored with Heidrun Dorgeloh).
  • “Comfort Zones of Orality: How Participants Override the Structural Characteristics of a Discussion Forum.” In: Sally Magnan (Ed., 2008): Mediating Discourse Online. 125-149. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Structural Aspects of Semantically Complex Verbs. Frankfurt: Peter Lang (Ed., 2001).
  • Verbklassifizierung und aspektuelle Alternationen im Englischen (‘Verb Classification and Aspectual Alternations in English’), Tübingen: Max Niemeyer (1999).

Research Interests

English syntax and morphology (with an emphasis on verbs), theory of grammar, text analysis, language change, genres of academic discourse, computer-mediated communication. I am currently working on a textbook on English words (how they are structured, how they change over time, and how they are represented in the mind).


I teach undergraduate and graduate courses in English linguistics, with a focus on syntax and the development of written English, including historical, psycholinguistic, and corpus linguistic aspects.

Personal Statement

In a linguistic conversation with Alice, Humpty Dumpty, who is otherwise very confident about lexical semantics ("When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean"), concedes that "some words have a temper" -- "particularly verbs: they're the proudest -- adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs." The "temper" of English verbs, the relationship between their meaning and their behavior in syntax and morphology, is the focus of my research. As a linguist, I am committed to the idea that "grammar" is part of every speaker's implicit knowledge of his or her native language. In the courses I teach, I discuss ways to make this knowledge visible, using the framework of generative grammar, complemented by functional approaches.


Personal Website

Recent Books

  • Syntactic Variation and Genre

    Anja Wanner & Heidrun Dorgeloh, Eds.

    Mouton de Gruyter


    This volume explores the interplay of syntactic variation and genre. How do genres emerge and what is the role of syntax in constituting them? Why do certain constructions appear in certain types of text? The book takes the concept of genre as a reference-point for the description and analysis of morpho-syntactic variation and change.

  • Deconstructing the English Passive

    Anja Wanner

    Mouton de Gruyter


    This book analyzes the form and function of the English passive from a verb-based point of view. It takes the position that the various surface forms of the passive (with or without thematic subject, with or without object, with or without by-phrase, with or without auxiliary) have a common source and are determined by the interplay of the syntactic properties of the verb and general syntactic principles.