School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

Language Evolution, Acquisition and Development

Language Evolution, Acquisition and Development

Our research includes first language acquisition and development, the acquisition of second language morphosyntax and phonology, and evolutionary linguistics.

Researchers in this group formulate hypotheses guided by linguistic theory, and, using a wide range of methodologies, investigate fundamental questions about the nature of language development in ontogeny (the individual) and in phylogeny (the species).

In terms of ontogeny, we are interested both in the question of how language grows in the mind/brain of the child, and also of how second languages develop in adults. In terms of phylogeny, we are interested in how the human language faculty developed in the course of evolution, and what properties the initial stages of language might have had, particularly with respect to syntax, the lexicon and morphosyntax.

Tying in with the work of the Language variation and change subgroup, members of this group also build formal evolutionary models of patterns of language change and stable sociolinguistic variation, using mathematical evolutionary theory to understand the patterns of language change.