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Leverhulme Success for Linguistics

Professor Michelle Sheehan's project asks wide-reaching questions about how language and meaning are related.

6 December 2023

Professor Michelle Sheehan will head up a project that asks wide-reaching questions about the relationship between language and meaning.

 Professor Sheehan explains: 

"It will focus on how language and meaning are related. It remains controversial in linguistics whether complex meaning exists independently or is it created by language? If language creates complex meaning this raises the question whether different languages convey subtly different meanings, with some meanings impossible to convey? Romance languages are an ideal initial testing ground for these  questions.The project will consider causative ('make'/'let') and perception ('see'/'hear') verbs in French, Portuguese, Romanian and other 'Romance' languages, including understudied Italian dialects. This enables us to track the contribution grammar makes to meaning."





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The project team includes Professor Adam Ledgeway at the University of Cambridge, Dr Rob Truswell at the  University of Edinburgh and Professor Sonia Cyrino at the State University of Campinas in São Paulo. There will also be two three-year post-doctoral research assistant positions on the project (one based in SELLL) and a fully funded PhD position (also in SELLL). They hope to be recruiting for these projects soon.