Michelle Waldispühl

Senior Lecturer

Department of Languages &
Visiting address
Renströmsgatan 6
41256 Göteborg
Room number
Postal address
Box 200
40530 Göteborg

About Michelle Waldispühl


I joined the Department of Languages and Literatures in 2015 as a senior lecturer in German Linguistics and Language Education. Before that, I worked at the universities of Zurich and Bern and the universities of teacher education in Zug and Zurich (Switzerland). I wrote my doctoral thesis on Continental runic inscriptions at the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) "Mediality – Historical Perspectives" based at the University of Zurich, where I also worked as a research fellow for public outreach.


My general research interests include Germanic language history – especially runology, the linguistics of historical writing, language contact and multilingualism, phonology and onomastics – and the learning and teaching of German as a second language. In my historical linguistic studies, I pursue an interdisciplinary approach in which I aim to combine philological and structural linguistic analysis with sociolinguistic and cultural-historical perspectives. Hence, I strive to embed the historical linguistic data in a broader cultural context.

I initiated and coordinate the seminar series Writing and Society and the Language in Society research area together with Johan Järlehed at the Department of Languages and Literatures.

In the year 2020 I am a guest researcher at the Department of Literature, Area Studies and European Languages at the University of Oslo.

Ongoing research projects

Variation and contact in historical personal names (PI, 2019-2022, funded by the Swedish Research Council, grant-number 2018-01556) This project investigates which strategies are employed when North Germanic personal names are adapted to medieval German, French and Latin in multilingual contexts. It aims at surveying the variation patterns evident in the adaptations and seeks to develop a theoretical model that explains why different strategies were used. As part of the project, ca. 1000 North Germanic names recorded in manuscripts on the Continent during the 1000-1300s, will be edited in the openly accessible online-database NordiCon which is developed in collaboration with Språkbanken. The database combines formally interpreted and richly interlinked onomastic data with digitized versions of the medieval manuscripts and information on the name tokens' context.

DECRYPT: Decryption of historical manuscripts (2018–2024, co-PI, PI: Beáta Megyesi, funded by the Swedish Research Council, grant-number 2018-06074) The aim of the DECRYPT-project is to establish a new cross-disciplinary scientific field of Historical Cryptology by bringing the expertise of the different disciplines together for collecting data, exchanging methods for faster progress to decode and contextualize historical encrypted manuscripts. The project will result in an openly accessible web-service with thousands of encrypted manuscripts, encryption keys and tools for (semi)-automatic decryption. We focus on the development of software tools for automatic analysis allowing users to decrypt various types of encrypted documents from our history on-line. Additionally, we will provide a large collection of historical texts from different time periods and language models for 15 European languages in a standardized format allowing search and studies of language variation and change over time.

Completed research projects

  • „Techniken und Praktiken mittelalterlicher kontinentalgermanischer Schriftlichkeit”, 2005-2011, PI: Prof. Dr. Elvira Glaser and Prof. Dr. Ludwig Rübekeil, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, University of Zurich
  • “Sprachland. Lehrmittel für die Mittelstufe”, 2007–2009, PI: Elsbeth Büchel and Ursina Gloor, University of Teacher Education Zurich
  • „Promoting Learner Autonomy in Higher Education“, 2012-2014, PI, University of Teacher Education Zug in collaboration with SEEU Tetovo, North Macedonia.


I have taught university courses at undergraduate, Master’s and PhD level (subjects: German, Scandinavian and English linguistics, medieval studies, language teaching and education, cultural studies ) and also have experience as a primary school teacher. At the University of Gothenburg, I teach undergraduate and Master’s courses, both on campus and online, in linguistics and language skills, and supervise students within the programme for German studies and the teacher training programme (German as a foreign language).