Katharina Prochazka | physics + linguistics Katharina Prochazka | physics + linguistics
What I do
Job-wise, I work as a post-doc researcher at the Department of Slavonic Studies, University of Vienna, within the sub-project German in the context of the other languages of the Habsburg state (19th century) and the Second Austrian Republic which is embedded in the larger special research programme “German in Austria”. (I wrote a blog post on how I got there after getting a PhD in physics, in case you were wondering.)
Research-wise, I use quantitative methods to study language contact and language shift in the multilingual Habsburg Empire. This means I try to find patterns within a large amount of data, and replicate them in mathematical models. Or, in short: I like numbers .
What I did before that
I recently (April 2019) finished my PhD at the Faculty of Physics in the group Dynamics of Condensed Systems. My dissertation titled “Diffusion modeling of language shift in Austria(-Hungary)” brought together physics and linguistics: How can we use methods from (solid state) physics to describe the spread of languages? In other words: Is there a diffusion of languages?
Further information, interactive maps and publications can be found on the project website.
Before that, I completed an MSc in Physics (2015) and an MA in Theoretical Linguistics (2013). I also have a diploma in printmaking and media technology from a graphic design school (the Graphische in Vienna).
Publications & talks: A list can be found on ORCID or the university portal (things from before 2015 are not on either of these, please contact me if you want a complete list or PDFs of any publication).
Teaching: I have taught various courses at the University of Vienna (both physics and linguistics).
Outreach: I work(ed) quite a lot with the Young Minds section of the Austrian Physical Society (ÖPG). I also co-designed an exhibition on historical multilingualism in Austria which is now available online. To bring my research to the masses (so to speak), I have given pop science talks about combining physics with linguistics, and on the linguistics of football .
What I can do: Some projects
PhysicsAs a physicist, I am trained in solid state physics and materials science, as well as in mathematical modelling and computer simulations.
- My PhD thesis developed a microscopic model for language shift in Austria(-Hungary) based on mathematical models of physical diffusion (movement of atoms). In other words, it tried to answer the question: are languages like atoms? (Yes and no.)
- For my MSc thesis, I did research on ceramic fibers with small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) – how does the inner structure change at high temperatures?
LinguisticsAs a linguist, I have worked on Austrian German/German in Austria, morphology, sociolinguistics and the linguistics of football. Further research interests are historical multilingualism, language contact and quantitative linguistics.
- My PhD thesis not only developed a model for language shift, but also critically examined the use of census data for linguistic research as well as differences in two language shift situations in Austria-Hungary. In addition, it discussed the correct linguistic interpretation of mathematical results.
- My MA thesis dealt with the gender of football club names in Austrian German. You can check out the English summary or the complete German version. A revised and extended edition was published as a book in 2014.
Graphic designAlthough I do not currently work in publishing, I enjoy applying the knowledge I have to the presentation of research: selecting fonts and color schemes, creating maps, layouting text and visualizing data in many ways.
- A recent example are the interactive maps on the language diffusion project page showing results of my PhD thesis.
- I co-wrote and produced a cookbook for autistic people as a final diploma project at the Graphische. An edition of 1000 was printed, about 300 of which were sold with the rest donated to relevant charities.
- When I was 15, I designed a couple of pixel fonts, the most popular being Blau 7pt.
You can best reach me via . I can read and answer in German, English and passable French. (I know a bit of Slovenian, but probably not enough to write a meaningful e-mail unless you want to exchange basic greetings and introductions.)
Department of Slavonic Studies
Spitalgasse 2, Hof 3