Prof. Dr. Esme Winter-Froemel

Romance Linguistics - Trier University, FB II


Contact details

winterfroemel [aτ]


Universität Trier

FB II - Romanistik

D-54286 Trier

Phone: +49 651/201-2215

Fax: +49 651/201-3929


Project: The evaluation of playful spelling variants of loanwords in speaker-hearer-interaction

The project looks at deviations from the ‘correct’, or rather established spelling of loan words in French, which are deliberately used by the speaker in order to evoke certain pragmatic or stylistic effects. This is a well-known technique in literary texts (cf. for instance Raymond Queneau’s bloudjinnzes or djinns bleus instead of blue jeans, ouesterne instead of western); however, it can also be found in current language use (cf. internet examples for French pipole instead of people, niouzes/niouses instead of news). Borrowed forms are often the basis for these playful deviations. The project will investigate which features of foreignness are decisive in this process (for example ‘foreign’ graphemes such as <w> or <k> that are also used for a playful deviation of native lexical unities of French). Simultaneously, these spelling variants sometimes resemble innovations that arise from folk etymology (cf. the nowadays completely established spelling French bouledogue, borrowed from English bull dog), so that the project touches on the fundamental question of the relationship between wordplay and linguistic innovation. Regarding the use of such forms in speaker-hearer interaction, the question of how these forms are brought in and interpreted will be addressed, as well as the types of knowledge that are needed for a successful wordplay between the participants of communication.



After studying Romance Languages (French, Spanish, Italian), Comparative Literature and Philosophy at the universities of Tübingen, Nantes and Pisa, Esme Winter-Froemel completed her PhD on loanwords and their integration in Romance languages in 2009. In the context of her Habilitation, she examined processes of semantic change in the verbal domain in the history of Romance languages, especially the development from indefinite to first person plural meaning, with a focus on the role of ambiguity in corresponding scenarios of innovation (indirectness, reanalysis). Additionally, she has conducted research and taught on wordplay since 2009. In April 2015 she was appointed professor of Romance linguistics at the University of Trier.

Esme Winter-Froemel’s main areas of research are semantics and pragmatics, as well as written language. Particular domains of interest are phenomena of ambiguity and linguistic change, language contact and borrowing as well as discourse traditions and historical discourse linguistics. Furthermore, she is particularly interested in interdisciplinary interfaces (Linguistics - Literary Studies - Rhetoric - Philosophy of Language).  

Esme Winter-Froemel is a member of the Research Training Programme/GRK 1808 Ambiguity – Production and Perception; moreover, she is a member of the network Middle Ages and Renaissance in the Romance speaking-world and of the Global Anglicism Database Network (GLAD).



Publications on the topic of the network

Onysko, Alexander & Esme Winter-Froemel (2011): „Necessary loans – luxury loans? Exploring the pragmatic dimension of borrowing“, in: Journal of Pragmatics 43/6, 1550-1567.


Winter-Froemel, Esme (2008): „Unpleasant, Unnecessary, Unintelligible? Cognitive and Communicative Criteria for Judging Borrowings and Alternative Strategies“, in: Roswitha Fischer & Hanna Pułaczewska (eds.): Anglicisms in Europe: Linguistic Diversity in a Global Context. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 16-41.


Winter-Froemel, Esme (2009): „Wortspiel“, in: Gert Ueding (Hg.): Historisches Wörterbuch der Rhetorik. Tübingen: Niemeyer, Bd. 9, Sp. 1429-1443.


Winter-Froemel, Esme (2010): „Les people, les pipoles, les pipeuls: Variance in loanword integration“, in: PhiN 53, 62-92.


Winter-Froemel, Esme (2011): Entlehnung in der Kommunikation und im Sprachwandel. Theorie und Analysen zum Französischen. Berlin / Boston: de Gruyter (Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für romanische Philologie 360).


Winter-Froemel, Esme (2013): „Formal variance and semantic changes in borrowing: Integrating semasiology and onomasiology“, in: Eline Zenner & Gitte Kristiansen (eds.): New perspectives on lexical borrowing (Language Contact and Bilingualism, 7). Berlin: de Gruyter Mouton, 65-100.


Winter-Froemel, Esme (2013): „Ambiguität im Sprachgebrauch und im Sprachwandel: Parameter der Analyse diskurs- und systembezogener Fakten“, in: Zeitschrift für französische Sprache und Literatur 123/2, 130-170.


Winter-Froemel, Esme & Alexander Onysko (2012): „Proposing a pragmatic disctinction for lexical anglicisms“, in: Cristiano Furiassi, Virginia Pulcini & Félix Rodríguez González (eds.): The Anglicization of European Lexis. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 43-64.


Winter-Froemel, Esme & Angelika Zirker (2010): „Ambiguität in der Sprecher-Hörer-Interaktion. Linguistische und literaturwissenschaftliche Perspektiven“, in: Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik 158, 76-97.


Winter-Froemel, Esme & Angelika Zirker (submitted): „Ambiguity in Speaker-Hearer Interaction: A Parameter-Based Model of Analysis“, submitted for: Ambiguität: Sprache und Kommunikation/ Ambiguity: Language and Communication (Linguistik – Impulse & Tendenzen) (ed. by Susanne Winkler). Berlin/New York, Mouton de Gruyter.


Further publications (selected)

Koch, Peter & Esme Winter-Froemel (2009): „Synekdoche“, in: Gert Ueding (ed.): Historisches Wörterbuch der Rhetorik. Tübingen: Niemeyer, Bd. 9, Sp. 356-366.


Winter-Froemel, Esme (2008): „Towards a Comprehensive View of Language Change. Three Recent Evolutionary Approaches“, in: Ulrich Detges & Richard Waltereit (eds.): The Paradox of Grammatical Change. Perspectives from Romance (= Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 293). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins, 215-250.


Winter-Froemel, Esme (2008): „Studying loanwords and loanword integration: Two criteria of conformity“, in: Newcastle Working Papers in Linguistics 14, 156-176.


Winter-Froemel, Esme (2009): „Les emprunts linguistiques – enjeux théoriques et perspectives nouvelles“, in: Neologica 3, 79-122.


Winter-Froemel, Esme (2009): „Frs kmi und a +: Der Kürzelgebrauch in frühen romanischen Schriftzeugnissen und in der Internetkommunikation“, in: Lidia Becker (ed.): Aktualität des Mittel-alters und der Renaissance in der Romanistik. Akten der Tagung vom 13.–14. Oktober 2006 in Trier. München: Martin Meidenbauer Verlag, 67-99.


Winter-Froemel, Esme (2011) : „Les tropes et le changement linguistique – points de contact entre la rhétorique et la linguistique“, in: Sarah Dessì Schmid, Ulrich Detges, Paul Gévaudan, Wiltrud Mihatsch & Richard Waltereit (eds.): Rahmen des Sprechens. Beiträge zu Valenztheorie, Varietätenlinguistik, Kreolistik, Kognitiver und Historischer Semantik. Peter Koch zum 60. Geburtstag. Tübingen: Narr, 227-239.


Winter-Froemel, Esme (2012): „Néologie sémantique et ambiguïté dans la communication et dans l’évolution des langues: défis méthodologiques et théoriques“, in: Cahiers de Lexicologie 100, 55-80.


Winter-Froemel, Esme (2012) : „Les changements sémantiques et les ambiguïtés au niveau du discours: l’exemple du fr. on“, in: F. Neveu, V. Muni Toke, P. Blumenthal, T. Klingler, P. Ligas, S. Prévost & S. Teston-Bonnard (eds.): 3e Congrès Mondial de Linguistique Française – CMLF 2012, Lyon, 4–7 juillet 2012. Recueil des résumés, CD-ROM des actes. Paris: Jouve, 247-259.


Winter-Froemel, Esme (2013-2014): „What does it mean to explain language change? Usage-based perspectives on causal and intentional approaches to linguistic diachrony, or: On S-curves, invisible hands, and speaker creativity“, in: Energeia. Online-Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft, Sprachphilosophie und Sprachwissenschaftsgeschichte. Heft 5: Kausale und finale Erklärungen in der Linguistik, 123-142.


Winter-Froemel, Esme (2014): .„Re(de)fining grammaticalization from a usage-based perspective: Discursive ambiguity in innovation scenarios“, in: Folia Linguistica 48/2, 503-556. [Special Issue: Refining Grammaticalization, ed. by Ferdinand von Mengden & Horst Simon].