I hold the chair of General Linguistics in the Institute of Linguistics at the University of Bern. My current work focuses on morphological typology and grammatical voice, and my recent work has centered around morphosyntactic clause alignment, as well as benefaction and malefaction. I have specialized in the indigenous languages of the Americas (especially the Algonquian languages of North America and Mapudungun in the Southern Cone), but I am also very much interested in Basque, Insular Celtic, West Germanic, and Iberian Romance.

I also hold a degree in economics and worked for some years at Swiss Re, the largest Swiss reinsurer. I am very interested in literature — especially highbrow fiction in English and Spanish, well-written speculative fiction in any language, and many things related to 221B Baker Street. Lastly, I was a piano teacher and pianist from the late 1980s until the early 2000s.

ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-9015-6601


Negation in Mapudungun
(Paper for a volume on negation edited by Ljuba Veselinova & Matti Miestamo.)


Non-verbal predication in Algonquian languages
(An article for the De Gruyter volume Non-Verbal Predication: A Typological Survey, edited by Pier Marco Bertinetto, Luca Ciucci and Denis Creissels)

Applicative Constructions in the World's Languages
(A volume co-edited with Denis Creissels, to be published by De Gruyter in the Comparative Handbooks of Linguistics series)

I am also writing several chapters for the edited volume on applicatives mentioned immediately above, namely (1) an introductory overview, and possibly also a results chapter (co-authored with Denis Creissels), (2) a chapter on applicativizing preverbs in selected European languages (co-authored with Peter Arkadiev and Veronika Hegedűs), and (3) an article on Mapudungun (authored by myself).

Equipollent Evidentiality: A Perspective from the Roof of the World
(A volume co-edited with Benjamin Brosig and Marius Zemp, to be published by Language Science Press in the Research on Comparative Grammar series)

I am also writing a chapter on equipollent evidential contrasts in Amazonian languages for this edited volume on evidentiality (co-authored with Marius Zemp).

Recent and Current Research Projects

Prototypes and Parts-of-Speech (ProPoSaL): A cross-linguistic, multi-methods approach to categorization with a focus on Adjectives

Start: 01.02.23
Funding: Swiss National Science Foundation (SINERGIA program)
Read more.

Evidentiality in time and space

Duration: 01.03.20-28.02.24
Funding: Swiss National Science Foundation
Read more

Linguistic morphology in time and space — South America

Funding: Swiss National Science Foundation (SINERGIA program)
Read more about this specific project
Read more about the overall SINERGIA project

A digital dictionary for the Blackfoot language

Duration: 01.01.15–30.12.17
Funding: Social Sciencies and Humanities Research Council of Canada
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Islands in an ocean of (poly)synthesis and concatenative morphology. What linguistic theory and typology can learn from selected Amerindian languages

Duration: 01.02.12-31.01.16
Funding: Swiss National Science Foundation
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Referential Hierarchies in Morphosyntax (RHIM): Description, typology, diachrony

Duration: 01.01.09–31.12.12
Funding: European Science Foundation (EuroBABEL project in the EuroCORES program)
Read more about RHIM
Read more about EuroBABEL
Read more about EuroCORES

The typology of benefactives

Duration: 01.03.07–31.12.10
Funding: no special funding
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Approaches to defining and analyzing semantic roles

Duration: 01.01.07–31.12.11
Funding: no special funding
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Alignment in Maku languages and the genetic and areal stability of alignment: A contribution to the typology of morphosyntactic organization

Duration: 01.01.04–31.12.04
Funding: Swiss National Science Foundation


Upcoming teaching (FS 2023)

  • Basque II
  • North American languages
  • Linguistic relativity
  • Syntactic theories and linguistic schools


Past teaching

University of Bern, Institute of Linguistics

  • Introduction to Syntax [fall 2013, fall 2015, fall 2020]
  • Introduction to Semantics and Pragmatics [fall 2013, spring 2016, fall 2017, fall 2019, spring 2022]
  • Introduction to Typology [spring 2016, spring 2018, spring 2020, spring 2022]
  • Introduction to Typology I & II [fall 2013 – spring 2014]
  • Writing Linguistic Papers and Theses [spring 2015, spring 2022]
  • Academic writing for linguists [spring 2020]
  • Basque I & II [fall 2013 – spring 2014, fall 2015 – spring 2016, fall 2018 – spring 2019, fall 2022]
  • Mapudungun I & II [fall 2014 – spring 2015, fall 2021 – spring 2022]
  • Quechua I & II [fall 2017 – spring 2018]
  • Welsh I & II [fall 2019 – spring 2020]
  • Welsh (structure course) [fall 2016]
  • Algonquian Languages [fall 2014, fall 2021]
  • Celtic Languages [fall 2015, spring 2019]
  • North American languages [spring 2013, spring 2016, spring 2018, spring 2021]
  • South American languages [spring 2013, fall 2016, fall 2018, fall 2020, fall 2022]
  • Endangered Languages [spring 2014, fall 2016, spring 2019, fall 2022]
  • Ergativity [fall 2016]
  • Grammatical Voice [spring 2013, spring 2015, fall 2017, spring 2020, fall 2022]
  • History of Linguistics: Authors [fall 2015]
  • History of Western Linguistics [spring 2014, spring 2019]
  • Linguistic Relativity [fall 2014, fall 2020]
  • Nominal Hierarchies in the Languages of the World [spring 2013]
  • Syntactic Theories and Schools of Linguistics [fall 2018]
  • Topics in Linguistic Description [fall 2019]
  • What is a Word? [fall 2014, spring 2018]
  • Writing Systems [spring 2015, fall 2017, fall 2019]


Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea / Universidad del País Vasco (Spain)
Hizkuntzalaritza eta Euskal Ikasketak Saila / Departamento de Lingüística y Estudios Vascos [April 23-27, 2018]

  • Elements for a Qualitative Voice Typology


Scuola Normale Superiore (Italy)
Laboratorio di Linguistica [March 1-4, 2016]

  • Elements for a Qualitative Voice Typology


Universidad de Sonora (Mexico)
Departamento de Letras y Lingüística [November 3-7, 2014]

  • Elements for a Qualitative Voice Typology


Universidad Nacional de La Pampa (Argentina) [July 7-11, 2014]

  • Elements for a Qualitative Voice Typology


Universidad Nacional del Nordeste (Argentina) [June 30 - July 3, 2014]

  • Elements for a Qualitative Voice Typology


Stockholm University (Sweden)
Department of Linguistics, Visiting Erasmus lecturer [May 5-9, 2014]

  • Amerindian Languages
  • Grammatical Voice
  • Why There Are So Many Clitics


Universidad Nacional de Río Negro (Argentina) [May 14, 2013]

  • Voice Typology


University of Helsinki (Finland)
Department of Languages, Visiting Erasmus lecturer [April 22-26, 2013]

  • Semantic and Pragmatic Inversion in Amerindian Languages
  • Pragmatic Voice in the Languages of the World
  • What, if Anything, is Polysynthesis?


University of Zurich
Department of Comparative Language Science

  • Endangered Languages (together with Giorgio Banti) [spring 2007]
  • Introduction to Comparative Linguistics I & II [spring 2000–spring 2002; fall 2007–fall 2011]
  • Introduction to North American Languages (proseminar & directed reading) [fall 1999]
  • The Languages of South America [spring 2012]
  • Modern Philosophy of Language (together with Mathias Jenny) [fall 2007]
  • Semantics & Pragmatics [spring 2007–spring 2011]
  • The Structures of Mapudungun [spring 2012]


University of Zurich
Romance Languages Department

  • Linguistic Introduction to Mapudungun [spring 2008]


University of Leipzig (Germany)
Institut für Linguistik

  • Introduction to South American Languages [spring 2003]


University of Cambridge (UK)
Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Visiting Erasmus lecturer [May 07-11, 2007]

  • An Introduction to Chilean Spanish
  • The Amerindian Neighbors of Chilean Spanish
  • Chilean Spanish and its Romance Neighbors


Theses (co-)supervised since 2012

Ph.D. theses (co-)supervised (current)

  • Ellora Hänni: TBA
  • Drew Hancock-Teed: TBA

Ph.D. theses (co-)supervised (completed)

  • Dominique Knuchel: A grammatical description of Kogi (Arwako-Chibchan; Colombia), February 2022
  • Jean Rohleder: A grammar of Vamale (Oceanic; New Caledonia), September 2021
  • Florian Matter: A typological account of the verbal morphology of Cariban languages, February 2021
  • [co-supervision: Belén Villena (U Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona): Innovación léxica en mapudungún: productividad, genuinidad y planificación [= Lexical innovation in Mapudungun: Productivity, genuineness and planning], October 2016]
  • Steffen Haurholm-Larsen: A grammar of Garifuna (Arawak; Honduras), September 2016
  • [co-supervision: Mario Della Costanza (U Zurich): La marcación diferencial del objeto en español: ¿una construcción con varios significados? [= Differential Object Marking in Spanish: A construction with several meanings?], December 2014]
  • [co-supervision: Marius Zemp: A historical grammar of the Tibetan dialect spoken in Kargil (Purik), December 2014]
  • [co-supervision: Jiāng Lì 姜儷: A grammar of Guìqióng (Qiangic; Sichuan), December 2013]

M.A. theses supervised (completed)

  • Florian Matter: Referential density and preferred argument structure in Mapudungun narrative texts, December 2015
  • Olivia Reuteler: Du- und Sie-Kulturen in Unternehmen und der Einfluss auf das Verhältnis zum Vorgesetzten [= Du and Sie cultures in firms and the influence upon the relationship to one’s superior], July 2015
  • Naoki Peter: Hiatus resolution in Blackfoot, December 2014
  • Mirjam Beck (U Zurich): Argument indexing in Muskogean languages: A predicate-class approach, December 2013
  • Silvana Camenisch: Differentielle Objektmarkierung im Mapudungun. Eine Untersuchung anhand narrativer Texte [=Differential Object Marking in Mapudungun. A narrative-based investigation], December 2013

Fernando Zúñiga — Editorial activity


Linguistic Typology (LT)


I am a member of the editorial board of this journal at De Gruyter. If you would like to inquire about the prospects of publishing your paper or review in this venue, please visit the link below. The responsible editor is Maria Koptjevskaja-Tamm (Stockholm University, Sweden).

LT website


Línguas Indígenas Americanas (LIAMES)


I am a member of the evaluating committee of this journal published by the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). If you would like to inquire about the prospects of publishing your paper or review in this venue, please visit the link below. The responsible editors are Lucy Seki and Ángel Corbera Mori (both from UNICAMP, Brazil).

LIAMES website