German-English contrasts in cohesion – Towards an empirically-based comparison (GECCo)

Kohäsion im Deutschen und Englischen – ein empirischer Ansatz zum kontrastiven Vergleich


Funded by DFG - German Research Foundation
Project Start: 1 April 2011
1. phase: April 2011 - June 2013
2. phase: July 2013 - January 2017


GECo - Textkohäsion im Englischen und Deutschen - Entwicklung einer empirischen Methodologie zur Erstellung eines typologisch basierten Vergleichs im Rahmen von Sprachkontaktforschungen

CroCo - Sprachliche Eigenschaften von Übersetzungen - Eine korpusbasierte Untersuchung für das Sprachenpaar Englisch-Deutsch

Project results:
The GECCo-project produced a corpus for contrastive linguistic work in the area of textual cohesion. The corpus covers English and German texts in a range of registers and exists in various releases. Its written registers and their lexicogrammatical annotations were imported in a re-organized form from the earlier CroCo-project. The corpus and its documentation can be accessed online for queries with CQPweb. Unrestricted access to the corpus texts is not possible due to property-right restrictions. Querying the corpus, however, with and without GECCo's annotations is possible and open to members of the research community and students.
The linguistic basis of corpus annotations lies in system-based comparisons of cohesive devices in English and German. The annotations allow  empirical tests of relevant frequency distributions  of cohesive configurations between the two languages, between 14 registers and between spoken and written language use. 

The GECCo project produced versions of the GECCo-corpus,  though for lexical chains with only a subset of representative registers. The project developed and documented a mixture of automatic pre-coding with human intervention and post-editing to develop sub-corpora of sufficient quality. Collaboration with the Prague Discourse Tree Bank has led to interoperable annotations across theories and corpora.
As far as empirical studies go,  statistically refined evaluations of  empirical results were produced from both phases of GECCo's lifetime. The project's generalization of cohesive contrasts in terms of degree, strength, semantic type and variation of cohesive devices and chains with particular consideration of the written-spoken dimension is new in the area of contrastive linguistics. This generalization appears necessary as one type of tertium comparationis for cross-linguistic comparison. Together with GECCo's documented annotation guidelines, its statistical evaluation techniques constitute models for a working pipeline in corpus-based empirical work.  Empirical results includ wide-ranging overviews on contrasts in cohesion English-German, as well as focused accounts of lexical cohesion and of ellipsis with particular reference to their function across the spoken-written modes.   
GECCo has explored and documented three areas of application of its results: its findings feed into language teaching methodologies to allow more discourse-oriented methodologies of teaching, increasing communicative competence. They  furthermore provide substantial input for the modelling and teaching of translation, where again an orientation towards improved skills in the creation of target-culture-adapted text production seems highly desirable.  And finally, project members jointly with collaborating co-authors produced several publications and prototypes integrating findings from GECCo into linguistic engineering and machine translation, showing how  improved control of text cohesion  improves linguistic engineering in various aspects.

GECCo-German-English contrasts in cohesion – Towards an empirically-based comparison


Prof. Dr. E. Steiner

Universität des Saarlandes
Geb. A2 2, Raum 1.05
D-66123 Saarbrücken

Tel.: +49 681 302-4482
Fax: +49 681 302-64375

E-Mail: e.steiner(at)

Prof. Dr. Kerstin Kunz

Universität Heidelberg
Raum UID 007a
Plöck 57a
D-69117 Heidelberg

Tel.: +49 6221-547227
Fax: +49 6221-547559

E-Mail: kerstin.kunz(at)