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):

Phonetic variation is concerned with the diversity of speech sounds, which occur in various languages and dialects and in particular situations of speech communication. This includes variation in pronunciation and how such a variation can be placed within a particular language’s or dialect’s sound system in general. Variation in pronunciation occurs also for second language learners, which can be influenced by the sound system of the learner’s first language. Phonetic variation involves studies on vowels and consonants, but is equally relevant in prosodic description, like e.g. form and function of certain patterns of melody and rhythm (cf. Prosody). Studies on sound variation includes also how the production of speech sounds – vowels, consonants and prosodic features – is carried out in the speaker, in relationship to the language or dialect spoken. Sound variation and similarities between different languages is also of interest in Typologi.

Colleagues: Malin Svensson Lundmark, Mechtild Tronnier

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

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

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 and evolution is the study of the limits on variation of human language, which properties of human language and more or less frequent and which logically possible properties seem to be particularly unusual. Of particular interest is the investigation of properties which tend to co-occur in the world's languages. An important aim of the research is to explain why and how patterns emerge. 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.

Homepage for the research group Typology and evolution.

Link to the infrastructure DiACL.

List of ongoing and completed projects.

Publications with links.

Researchers and PhD students at Lund University: Gerd Carling, Arthur Holmer, Johan Frid, Sandra Cronhamn, Niklas Johansson, Filip Larsson, Victor Bogren Svensson. Research assistants: Olof Lundgren, Linus Nilsson, Hilda Appelgren, William Zetterberg, Ravn Kirkegaard.

International partners: Harald Hammarström, Phillipp Rönchen, Chundra Cathcart, Marc Tang, Johannes Dellert (for a complete list with links, see here. For a complete list of contributors to the infrastructure DiACL, see here)

Language typology and evolution studies the emergence of variation in the world's 7,680 languages.