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Language Evolution, Acquisition and Development

Our research group explores language acquisition and evolution through a range of important research questions.

The Language Evolution, Acquisition and Development interdisciplinary and cross-school research group has expertise spanning typical and atypical child and adult language acquisition, cognitive science, information theory, and psycholinguistics.

Members study the acquisition and evolution of language which exists universally in every human society, enabling our unique cultures.

Yet, no other species on the planet communicates in such a complex way, using an intricate, rule-governed system of symbols.

We address the ‘big’ questions about language: how and why are humans the only species that speaks or signs, and how do most children acquire this complex linguistic system so effortlessly while adults rarely do?


Our methodological tools range from corpora and computational models to behavioural experiments. Our research overlaps with:

  • anthropology
  • cultural evolution
  • complex systems science
  • developmental psychology

We collaborate with the Language Variation and Change research group, researchers from the cross-faculty Centre for Behaviour and Evolution, and colleagues in the School of Education, Communication, and Language Sciences.

We are affiliated with the LingLab, working in the space and with the LingLab management to develop their world-class facilities.

We also work closely with childcare providers across Newcastle to conduct our research and to support childcare professionals in their professional development