Federica Cognola
Language and translation - German

What do you teach at Ca’ Foscari? What are your main research interests? 
My name is Federica Cognola and I teach German Language and Translation at Ca' Foscari. My field of research is descriptive and theoretical syntax with a specific focus on typical phenomena of the German language. Specifically, my areas of research are: verb-second (V2), OV/VO order, referential and expletive (null) subject syntax, scrambling, restructuring, modal particles, topic syntax; German dialectology and German-speaking linguistic islands (Mocheno and Cimbro) and Ladin; German and Italian diachrony: I worked on the null subject in Old High German and Old Italian and on the Old High German expletive tho, and on Monolingual and bilingual learning.

Tell us about your academic path.
After graduating in 2006 in Foreign Languages in Padua (German and Spanish) with a dissertation on German dialectology, I obtained a PhD in 2010 in General Linguistics, also at the University of Padua. From December 2009 to September 2017, I worked at the University of Trento as a postdoc researcher, mostly on external funds I won through competitive calls and as an adjunct lecturer at the University of Trento and Verona. I have also been a visiting scholar at the Universities of Cambridge (UK) and Potsdam. From October 2017 to November 2019, I was a Researcher at La Sapienza University of Rome and since late November 2019 I have been a Research Fellow at Ca' Foscari.

What are your professional role models / references?
In linguistics, as in any field of research, each topic is (or has been) addressed in greater or lesser depth by several experts. Some of these experts are, to all intents and purposes, references in those specific fields, if only because of the amount of time, work and publications devoted to the study of those topics. However, the key point is not "who" discovered or studied "what", but rather "how" they did it. The model/reference is therefore the scientific method itself, which researchers try to (or should) follow.

What is the aspect of your research you are most passionate about?
Sometimes, during your research, you manage to understand an aspect of reality that was unknown or not understood until then. This may concern either the most relevant or the often-overlooked issues. Realising that you are the first (or one of the first) to gain access to certain knowledge means being aware that you have pushed the horizon of human knowledge a little further. This can repay years of effort dedicated to trying to understand the reality around us better.

What does teaching and researching mean to you?
A great privilege: this job satisfies my personal curiosity and interest in what is still unexplained, what is new, what is unknown. On the other hand, our work implies that we must be aware of our great responsibility towards our students, who learn from us lecturers the most effective ways and techniques of exploring and explaining reality (especially through the scientific method), even before a significant amount of notions. This type of knowledge and analysis of reality is the most important part of the added value provided to students, regardless of the field they will research or the professional field where they will work.

What has given you the greatest satisfaction in your career?
Contributing to the comprehension of the syntax of a minority language, Mòcheno, which is little studied and little known. Bringing the data of this variety into scientific discussions and, at the same time, contributing to the description of the language for its speakers has been rewarding.

Last update: 28/02/2023