Research

General linguistics

Linguistics is a broad interdisciplinary discipline with research in many different areas concerning the nature, processing, development and evolution of language. The following areas are represented within Linguistics at the Centre for Languages and Literature (CLL):

Neurolinguistics studies how and where language is processed in the brain. In Lund, we focus on the processing of prosody, speech sounds, and grammar. We use brain imaging methods such as EEG and MRI, sthat are available at Lund University Humanities Laboratory or at the Lund Bioimaging Center. Neurolinguistics involves collaboration with the faculties of medicine and social sciences.


People: Andrea Fingerhut, Sabine Gosselke Berthelsen, Anna Hjortdal, Merle Horne, Renata Kochancikaite, Mikael Novén, Mikael Roll, Claudia Sjöström, Pelle Söderström

Psycholinguistics investigates how we produce, understand and learn language and the psychological and biological underpinnings of these processes. Research examines language processing, that is, the very fast processes required to produce and understand language in speech, writing, or sign language, or combinations such as speech and gestures. Psycholinguistics is interdisciplinary and employs various methods, ranging from reaction time experiments, eye-tracking, neurocognitive methods (see also Neurolinguistics) to gesture analysis.

  • Language Production. How do we go from an idea of what we want to express to producing a written or spoken utterance with words, grammar, intonation, appropriate pronunciation, and gesture? How these components coordinated? How do we learn to coordinate them?
  • Language comprehension. How do we understand language and language-related information? How do we process and coordinate individual sounds or letters, words, grammar, intonation, gestures, etc.? How do we learn to do this?
  • Language learning and multilingualism. See this heading.
  • Language and thought. How does language relate to general cognition? What are the consequences of crosslinguistic variation? How does human communication and cognition compare to those in other species? See also the heading Cognitive Semiotics.

People: Marianne Gullberg, Annika Andersson, Roger Johansson, Victoria Johansson, Susan Sayehli

Projects:
Expert writing – divine inspiration or hard work?
Gaze behaviour in writing
Multilingualism through the lifespan: The effects of first exposure to an unknown language
Swedish word order processing in second language learners and native speakers: A psycholinguistic and neurocognitive approach

With the establishment of the discipline of semantic typology, the past couple of decades have seen a renewed interest in patterns of meaning across the world's languages. New methods of elicitation and analyses, applied in numerous and typically lesser-known language settings, have revealed an astonishing diversity in how languages delimit, carve up, and label fundamental domains, thus setting a new tone for cross-linguistic and cross-cultural inquiry and theorization. Several researchers at Linguistics currently explore a number of such domains, including space, time, motion, emotion, landscape, perception, and ethnobiology. (See also Cognitive Semiotics/Cognitive-semiotic typology).

This typological endeavor is closely linked to the discipline of lexicology, in which lexical data is documented, described and digitized into language corpora for the purpose of creating dictionaries of languages. Several such dictionaries are currently in preparation in Lund, with a focus on lesser-known languages in Southeast Asia (e.g. Kammu, Jahai, Semaq Beri), Taiwan (Seediq), Europe (Scandoromani), and Central Asia (the extinct Tocharian language).

People: Felix Ahlner, Johan Blomberg, Niclas Burenhult, Gerd Carling, Arthur Holmer, Juliette Huber, Nicole Kruspe, Chris Sinha, Jan-Olof Svantesson, Jordan Zlatev

Projects:
Studies in symbiotic language development: Swedish and Norwegian Scandoromani (VR)
Language, cognition and landscape: understanding cross-cultural and individual variation in geographical ontology (ERC)
Digital Austro-Asiatic Archive (RJ)
De l'Espace au Temps (ET), in collaboration with ENS & CNRS, Paris

Half of the world’s 7,000 languages have less than 10,000 speakers, and many are severely endangered. Linguists have an important role to play in collecting data from such languages and store them in sustainable digital archives. Data collection is typically carried out through fieldwork among the speech communities themselves. Such language documentation helps us record and understand human linguistic diversity, and it may serve to help communities to preserve and maintain their languages. Language documentation results in rich multimedia corpora with transcribed audiovisual recordings, dictionaries, and other types of data. Currently we carry out language documentation in the following regions: the Amazon, Taiwan, Europe, New Guinea, and Southeast Asia.

Linguistic typology is the study of the limits on variation of human language, which properties of human language and more or less frequent, which logically possible properties seem to be particularly unusual or even non-existent. Of particular interest is the investigation of properties which tend to co-occur in the world's languages. In our typological work, we examine word class inventories in different language types, information structure patterns and how they interact with word order and intonation, agreement and case alignment, the linguistic expression of time and how time is conceptualized, the linguistic representation of landscape, expressions for motion and emotion, as well as the boundaries between language and music. (See also Cognitive semiotics and Semantics and lexicology)

We are working or have worked with languages in Amazonia (e.g. Amondawa) , Europe (e.g. Alemmannic, Basque and Romani), Southeast Asia (e.g. Thai, Kammu, Jahai, Menriq and several others) and Taiwan (e.g Seediq and Puyuma), as well as with Mongolian and with the extinct language Tocharian.

Persons: Felix Ahlner, Johan Blomberg, Niclas Burenhult, Gerd Carling, Arthur Holmer, Juliette Huber, Anastasia Karlsson, Nicole Kruspe, Nils Larsson, Chris Sinha, Axel Svahn, Jan-Olof Svantesson, Marcus Uneson, Jordan Zlatev

Projects:
Adverbial verbs in Formosan languages (RJ)
Word order, information structure and intonation (CCS / RJ)
Information structure, prosody and the origins of Formosan relativization (VR)
Language and culture atlas of South America (Crafoord)
Language, cognition and landscape (LACOLA): understanding cross-cultural and individual variation in geographical ontology (ERC)
The Iberian-Caucasian connection in a typological perspective (Birgit & Gad Rausings stiftelse för humanistisk forskning)
De l'Espace au Temps (ET), in collaboration with ENS & CNRS, Paris