Areas of expertise

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Child doing language experiment

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

    Language acquisition

    • developmental pragmatics (Cat Davies)
    • L1 development of reference  (Cat Davies)
    • development of inferencing in oral language and reading (Cat Davies)
    • development and processing of adjectives (Cat Davies)
    • protracted L1 effects in very advanced second language learners (Cecile De Cat)
    • language and cognitive development of bilingual children (Cecile De Cat)
    • L1 acquisition of discourse competence (Cecile De Cat)
    • implicit acquisition vs explicit learning (Clare Wright)
    • applying second language acquisition findings in linguistics to language teaching (Clare Wright)
    • task effects on L2 processing and production, particularly L2 Mandarin (Clare Wright)
    • bi/multilingualism, heritage language acquisition (Clare Wright)
    • individual variation in L1 and L2 acquisition (Diane Nelson; Clare Wright)


    • relationships between visual search and the production of referring expressions (Cat Davies)
    • 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)

    Discourse studies

    • 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)
    • media representations of rape and other violent crime against women (Bethan Davies)
    • influence of discourse context on sound patterns (Leendert Plug)
    • function and phonetics of discourse markers (Leendert Plug)
    • language documentation and development of orthographies for unwritten languages (Janet Watson)
    • sociophonetics and corpus phonetics (Amanda Cardoso)
    • new-dialect emergence and dialect contact/mixing effects (Amanda Cardoso)


    • dislocation and topichood (Cecile De Cat)
    • capturing the exhaustivity effect in clefts (Cecile De Cat)
    • Finno-Ugric Syntax (Diane Nelson)
    • encoding of animacy in human grammars (Diane Nelson)
    • input factors in L1 grammatical competence (Diane Nelson)
    • evaluating standardised assessments of grammar in clinical and typically developing children (Diane Nelson)

    Phonetics and phonology

    • phonological categories in Arabic and Modern South Arabian (Janet Watson)
    • phonation and glottal states (Barry Heselwood & Janet Watson)
    • epenthetic vowels (Barry Heselwood & Leendert Plug)
    • representation of reduction patterns (Leendert Plug)
    • phonetics and phonology of emphasis (Leendert Plug)
    • timing and tempo in self-corrections (Leendert Plug)
    • new methodologies for the acoustic analysis of vowels (Amanda Cardoso)
    • relationship between phonetic detail and phonological systems (Amanda Cardoso)
    • phonologically conditioned variation in varieties (Amanda Cardoso)
    • effect of co-articulation on language variation and change (Amanda Cardoso)

    Our staff and research students are active members of the Language at Leeds research network, which draws together researchers in linguistics and language studies from across the University of Leeds. We are also members of a number of smaller research groups such as the Language Development and Cognition Group, a satellite of the Leeds Centre for Interdisciplinary Childhood and Youth Research (L- CYR).

    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, e.g.  Linguistic Politeness Research Group, Language and Reading Research in Yorkshire, and

    Linguistics and Phonetics also houses the Leeds Child Development Unit, a research group and dedicated space for studying how children learn to communicate.

    Visit the Language at Leeds website.

Pages in this document

  1. Areas of expertise
  2. Funded research projects
  3. Research student projects