Featured Alum: Hans Boas

Our featured alum is Hans Boas, Assistant Professor of Germanic Linguistics for the Germanic Studies Department at the University of Texas in Austin. Boas was a member of the AI group at ICSI working on FrameNet from January 1999 to August 2000. At the time, he was completing his dissertation for a linguistics PhD from UNC Chapel Hill, which he received in 2000. As a postdoctoral researcher, he continued his work on FrameNet, funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and later returned for a summer research visit in 2002. While at ICSI, Boas worked on the development of FrameNet. His role included defining frames and determining which words are in fact elements of each frame, as well as performing frame semantic annotation of texts.

He was hired by the University of Texas following his most recent stay at ICSI, and has been working to create a German language FrameNet there. He has obtained funding for three students to set up the infrastructure for German FrameNet, and he is seeking additional funding to continue the project.

Boas is interested in topics related to FrameNet such as construction grammar and frame semantics, as well as computational lexicography, documentary linguistics, language contact and language variation, and language and politics.

His main research focus today is on the interface between syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and the structure of the lexicon. Using corpus-based methods, he compares English and German using the theoretical frameworks of Construction Grammar and Frame Semantics (topics he studied while working for ICSI's AI Group which continue to inform projects of ICSI's Neural Theory of Language group as well as the FrameNet project). He has recently been working on argument structure constructions in English and German, and is working on new ways to define verb classes using frame semantic principles.

Another of Boas's recent projects is the Texas German Dialect Project which he founded in 2001 to record, archive, and analyze the remnants of the Texas German dialect. He is currently investigating linguistic features of the dialect which have changed over the past sixty years and the reasons for these changes. Boas has been successful in obtaining funding for this research, including setting up an endowment to continue the research in the future. He has also completed a book manuscript based on this work, which is scheduled for publication by Duke University Press in 2008.