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

    • L1 acquisition of clitic pronouns and reflexives (Valentina Brunetto)
    • Bound variable anaphora and intrasentential coreference (Valentina Brunetto)
    • 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)
    • Socioeconomic factors in first language acquisition (Cat Davies)
    • Protracted L1 effects in very advanced second language learners (Cécile De Cat)
    • Language and cognitive development of bilingual children (Cécile De Cat)
    • L1 acquisition of discourse competence (Cécile De Cat)
    • Second language processing (Cécile 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)


    • Processing of anaphoric dependencies in non-local domains (Valentina Brunetto)
    • Production and comprehension of referring expressions (Cat Davies)
    • The role of speaker identity in language processing (Cat Davies)
    • Relationship between Executive Function and referential abilities (Cécile De Cat)
    • The processing impact of resumptive pronouns and islands (Cécile De Cat)
    • Processing of noun-noun compounds by native and second language speakers (Cécile De Cat)
    • Speech perception and phonological processing (Gisela Tomé Lourido, Robert Lennon, Leendert Plug)
    • Effects of educational attainment and literacy on syntactic processing (Diane Nelson)
    • Working memory effects on speech production (Clare Wright)

    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)
    • Sociophonetic variation (Robert Lennon, Gisela Tomé Lourido)
    • Influence of discourse context on sound patterns (Leendert Plug)
    • Language documentation and development of orthographies for unwritten languages (Janet Watson)


    • Locality and defective heads (Valentina Brunetto)
    • Dislocation and topichood (Cécile De Cat)
    • Capturing the exhaustivity effect in clefts (Cécile De Cat)
    • Fragments (Cécile De Cat)
    • Uralic 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

    • Phonetics of rhoticity (Robert Lennon)
    • Accent familiarity and perceptual adaptation (Robert Lennon)
    • Sociophonetic variation (Robert Lennon, Gisela Tomé Lourido)
    • Bilingual speech processing (Gisela Tomé Lourido)
    • Galician phonetics (Gisela Tomé Lourido)
    • Consonant clusters and vowel epenthesis (Leendert Plug)
    • Phonetic reduction patterns (Leendert Plug)
    • Speech tempo and rhythm perception (Leendert Plug, Robert Lennon)
    • Phonological categories in Arabic and Modern South Arabian (Janet Watson)
    • Phonation and glottal states (Janet Watson)
    • Consonant articulation in Arabic and Modern South Arabian (Janet Watson)

    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