Areas of expertise

View pages in this document
Child doing language experiment

We have particular research expertise in the following areas (click for specific projects and researchers):

    Language acquisition, including first language acquisition, second language acquisition, developmental pragmatics, and language teaching practices

  • production and comprehension of referring expressions in L1 acquisition (Cat Davies)
  • developmental pragmatics in typical and atypical populations (Cat Davies)
  • protracted L1 effects in very advanced second language learners (Cecile De Cat)
  • language and cognitive development of successive bilingual children (Cecile De Cat)
  • L1 acquisition of discourse competence (Cecile De Cat)
  • individual variation in L1 acquisition (Diane Nelson, Melinda Whong)
  • implicit acquisition vs explicit learning (Melinda Whong)
  • applying second language acquisition findings in linguistics to language teaching (Melinda Whong)
  • Psycholinguistics, including sentence processing and experimental pragmatics 

  • the psychological reality of Gricean maxims (Cat Davies)
  • visual and linguistic constraints on the production of referring expressions (Cat Davies)
  • use of speaker identity cues in pragmatic processing (Cat Davies)
  • relationship between Executive Function and referential abilities (Cecile De Cat)
  • processing of noun-noun compounds by native and second language speakers (Cecile De Cat)
  • coordination of speech production and monitoring processes in self-correction (Leendert Plug)
  • effects of educational attainment and literacy on syntactic processing (Diane Nelson, Melinda Whong)

  • Discourse studies, including politeness theory, language and gender, language and power and interactional linguistics

  • classroom discourse and its impact on pupil behaviour (Ruth Payne)
  • the discourse of transport: how different road users are positioned in official publications (Bethan Davies)
  • minority languages in the UK: language policy and language ideologies (Bethan Davies)
  • politeness in institutional settings (Bethan Davies)
  • language ideologies in media discourse: metadiscourses of (im)politeness, racism, sexism and ‘proper
  • language’ (Bethan Davies)
  • influence of discourse context on sound patterns (Leendert Plug, Paul Carter)
  • function and phonetics of discourse markers (Leendert Plug)
  • sociophonetics and corpus phonetics (Paul Carter)
  • language documentation and development of orthographies for unwritten languages (Janet Watson)

  • Syntax and its interaction with information structure and morphology 

    Information structure and its syntactic reflexes

    • dislocation and topichood (Cecile De Cat)
    • capturing the exhaustivity effect in clefts (Cecile De Cat)
    • word-order restrictions involving information structurally marked arguments and adjuncts, e.g. intensifiers  (Harris Constantinou)

    Syntactic structure and its interpretive effects

    • binding theory, movement, theta-theory (Harris Constantinou)
    • positioning of adverbial categories and possible meanings  (Harris Constantinou)
    • quantificational scope relations and word order: quantificational DPs; Epistemic modals (heads); Contrastive arguments and adjuncts (Harris Constantinou)

    The nature of morphosyntactic categories

    • encoding of animacy in human grammars (Diane Nelson)

    Phonetics and phonology, including acoustic and instrumental phonetics, laboratory phonology and the study of spontaneous speech patterns 

    The nature of phonological categories

    • acoustic and perceptual correlates of rhoticity (Barry Heselwood, Leendert Plug, Paul Carter)
    • phonological status of assimilation (Barry Heselwood)
    • phonological categories in Arabic and Modern South Arabian (Janet Watson)
    • representation of reduction patterns (Leendert Plug)
    • phonetics and phonology of emphasis (Leendert Plug)
    • phonetic transcription (Barry Heselwood)
    • phonation and glottal states (Barry Heselwood & Janet Watson)
    • the interaction of melodic and prosodic phonology (Paul Carter)
    • the relationship between phonetic detail and phonological systems (Paul Carter)

    Temporal organisation of speech

    • timing effects in consonant sequences (Barry Heselwood)
    • timing and tempo in self-corrections (Leendert Plug)

    Our staff and research students are active members of the Language, Linguistics and Translation research group within the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies, along with colleagues from the Centre for Translation Studies and several language departments. This group is itself part of the Language at Leeds research network, which draws together researchers in linguistics and language studies from across the University of Leeds.

    We also participate in research groups with colleagues from the Universities of York and Sheffield, such as the White Rose Forum on Language Acquisition and the White Rose Language and Interaction group, as well as in other national and international research networks.

    Visit the Language at Leeds website

    Pages in this document

    1. Areas of expertise
    2. Current staff research
    3. Funded research projects
    4. Current student research