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Department of Linguistics
McGill University
1085 Dr. Penfield
Montreal, Quebec
Canada. H3A 1A7

Tel: (514) 398-4222  
Fax: (514) 398-7088
 

PROJECTS                          

  • Title: Plasticité cognitive et acquisition du langage: l’effet de l’environnement linguistique (Cognitive plasticity and language acquisition: effects of the linguistic environment)
    Investigators: Heather Goad (PI), Fred Genesee, Gigi Luk, Phaedra Royle, Stefano Rezzonico, Karsten Steinhauer, Elin Thordardottir, Lydia White
    Duration of grant: 2020-2024
    Granting agency: FRQSC Team Grant

    Project Description
    This interdisciplinary research program examines effects of quantity, quality and timing of input on learner development in various groups: bilingual children, children with language impairment, internationally adopted children, heritage speakers and L2 learners. The emphasis is on determining the extent to which diverse groups exhibit effects of cognitive plasticity in their approaches to language learning, despite variation in input. Key questions include the following: (i) What is the typical developmental trajectory for language learners under diverse learning conditions and how is this shaped by the input to which they are exposed? (ii) Which cognitive factors impact language acquisition and use, and is their impact the same under different input conditions? At the same time, we question whether monolinguals provide the appropriate benchmark for all learners. We expect that plasticity will be better recognized if groups are evaluated by means other than solely through comparisons with monolinguals. By focusing on multiple groups, we aim to show that learners are often successful in attaining a level of proficiency that allows for communicative competence, if not total grammatical accuracy.

     For further information on the work of this team, click here:
  • Title: Phonological effects on grammatical representation and processing
    Investigators: Heather Goad and Lydia White
    Duration of grant: 2015-2020
    Granting agency: SSHRC Insight Grant

    Project Description
    Recent literature in linguistics has witnessed a growing interest in how different components of the grammar formally relate to each other. This research program explores the relationship between phonology and other domains of the grammars of second language learners and bilingual speakers. We are investigating how this relationship accounts for knowledge and use of a second language from a variety of perspectives including: (i) extending our Prosodic Transfer Hypothesis beyond production to include processing as well as various types of functional morphology in different combinations of languages; (ii) extending our work on parsing of ambiguous sentences, focusing on prosodic cues to syntactic constituency in a different range of constructions and a wider variety of languages; (iii) considering the role of prosody in determining how pronouns are (mis)interpreted; (iv) investigating prosodic realization of information structure, especially where the L1 and L2 differ as to whether certain aspects of information structure are realized prosodically or syntactically; and (v) identifying situations where the input available to learners, especially in classroom contexts, is potentially or actually misleading such that prosodic evidence might misguide the learner as to the appropriate representation for the target grammar.

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