School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Professor Friederike Lüpke

Key information

School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics Professorial Research Associate
MA (Köln), PhD (Nijmegen)
Email address


Friederike Lüpke studied General and African Linguistics at the University of Cologne and at the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO), Paris. For her PhD dissertation project at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics Nijmegen, she conducted extensive fieldwork on Jalonke, an endangered variety of Yalunka spoken in Guinea. She came to SOAS in 2003 as a PostDoctoral Fellow. Currently, she is working on the Baïnounk language cluster in Senegal. Details on the current project, Crossroads.

Inaugural Lecture

Prof Friederike Lüpke Inaugural Lecture: Language Diversity, African Style

Research interests

Friederike Lüpke’s research interests include verbal argument structure, Atlantic and Mande linguistics, with a focus on syntactic and semantic typology, individual and societal multilingualism, the influence of cognition, culture and contact on language, and the use of non-Roman scripts for the writing of West African languages. 

Pots, Plants, and People

She led an interdisciplinary documentation project on Baïnounk  languages of Senegal, the DoBeS-funded project ‘Pots, plants, and people – a documentation of Baïnounk knowledge systems’. Other longstanding interests lie in data collection methods for language documentation and in linking sociolinguistics to language documentation in order to gain a better understanding of situations of language endangerment and language vitality, and to be able to build representative corpora of language use. These interests find expression in new collaborative research she is leading from 2014 to 2018, in the Leverhulme Research Leadership award project ‘Crossroads - investigating the unexplored side of multilingualism’.

Crossroads - investigating the unexplored side of multilingualism

Prof. Friederike Lüpke is the primary investigator of the Crossroads project. Her research interests span the linguistic structure of Mande and Atlantic languages of West Africa, with a particular focus on nominal and verbal classification systems, and multilingualism and language contact in all their facets. Her recent research in this domain has investigated multilingualism as an individual and societal practice; the division of labour of spoken and written codes in multilingual repertoires; and the relationships between ideologies and language use in multilingual contexts. Currently, she is particularly interested in developing a better understanding of small-scale multilingual settings across the globe. This research topic also includes the development of methodologies to investigate complex linguistic ecologies rather than studying a single language in field settings.

Within the Crossroads project Friederike oversees the research activities of the entire team while continuing her research in Agnack. This research started out as research on the Baïnounk language Gujaher spoken there but has now been widened to aim at analysing the multilingual configuration of Agnack, where Gujaher is only one of the named languages used in a complex setting. Gujaher is spoken in a different contact setting than the languages Baïnunk Gubëeher, Joola Banjal and Joola Kujireray spoken at the “Crossroads”. Therefore, it serves as a control language to delineate what is specific for the “Crossroads” settings in terms of linguistic convergences. At the same time, her research focus includes the study of the social motivations creating this particular language ecology, also with the comparative goal of understanding what is shared with other settings in the wider area and what is typical for this locally confined ecology.

PhD Supervision

Name Title
Heather Ayn Todd Ethnobiological inventories of a multilingual community in Cameroon


Contact Friederike