Phonological Effects on Grammatical Representation and Processing (2015-2020)

Funding Agency: Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)
Investigators: Heather Goad (PI) & Lydia White

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.

Neurocognitive perspectives on the acquisition, loss and processing of language (2015-2019)

Funding Agency: FRQSC (Fonds de recherche du Québec - Société et culture)
Investigators: Lydia White (PI), Fred Genesee, Heather Goad, Yuriko Oshima-Takane, Phaedra Royle, Karsten Steinhauer & Elin Thordardottir

The overall objective of this research program is to investigate neurocognitive underpinnings of language acquisition and use amongst learners who are bilinguals, early or late L2 learners, or learners with language impairment.

The approach is interdisciplinary, embracing different theoretical and methodological perspectives, both linguistic and psycholinguistic. We measure linguistic behaviour, using off-line and on-line measures. We also use neuro-imagining methods in order to examine more directly the neural substrates implicated in–or affected by–language learning, language loss and language processing.

A number of projects are planned investigating a variety of linguistic phenomena and involving comparisons between monolinguals and bilinguals, impaired and unimpaired language learners, early and late acquirers of second languages, and learners experiencing language loss at different ages.

Universal biases in vocal sequence learning (2014-2015)

Funding Agency: Centre for Research on Brain, Language and Music (CRBLM), Research Incubator Award
Investigators: Jon Sakata (PI), Heather Goad & Lydia White

The hypothesis that languages share common organizing principles has stirred much debate about the extent to which innate neurobiological factors guide or constrain linguistic systems. This research program involves experimental manipulations of vocal sequence learning in songbirds, which share aspects of vocal communication with humans, to provide potential insight into such organizing principles and biases in language learning in humans.

Second Language Acquisition at the Phonology/Syntax Interface (2011-2014)

Funding Agency: SSHRC
Investigators: Lydia White (PI) & Heather Goad

This research program extends our work on the Prosodic Transfer Hypothesis (PTH). The PTH argues for a prosodic account of L2 learners’ omission or mispronunciation of inflectional morphology and function words, such as tense, agreement, determiners, etc.

In particular, L2 learners are claimed to have difficulties constructing prosodic representations which are disallowed in the L1. In this program, we investigate additional L1/L2 combinations and new morphological domains.

A series of experiments will be conducted, investigating the performance of child and adult L2 learners, comparing spoken production of functional material with performance on a variety of other tasks, both online and offline.

Effects of Maturation on the Acquisition and Processing of Language (2009-2013)

Funding Agency: FRQSC
Investigators: Lydia White (PI), Fred Genesee, Heather Goad, Yuriko Oshima-Takane, Karsten Steinhauer & Elin Thordardottir

This team research program addresses language acquisition by first language acquirers, simultaneous bilinguals, second language learners (child and adult), and children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI).

The overall objective is to investigate the nature and extent of age (or critical period) effects on acquisition and processing. We focus on how age differences affect linguistic representations, language development, processing and use.

A number of inter-related projects will be conducted, involving comparisons between monolingual and bilingual language learners of different ages, impaired and unimpaired language learners, early and late acquirers of second languages, and learners experiencing language loss at different ages.

Cues to Segmenting Complex Syllables from the Speech Stream in Infancy (2009-2010)

Funding Agency: Centre for Research on Language, Mind and Brain (CRLMB), New Initiative Funding
Investigators: Kris Onishi (PI) & Heather Goad

This research program experimentally examines linguistic and statistical cues that infants use to segment the speech stream into syllables, an understudied topic in the infant segmentation literature.

The present focus is on the syllabification of word-internal stop+liquid clusters because these clusters are phonotactically ambiguous when viewed from a cross-linguistic perspective: languages like French syllabify them as tautosyllabic, while languages like Arabic syllabify them as heterosyllabic.

Centre for Research on Brain, Language and Music (2011-2017)

Funding Agencies: FRQNT (Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies) and FRQSC

The CRBLM integrates the research of its investigators across four research axes: acquisition and development, competence and performance, neuroscientific approaches, clinical research and applications. Within each axis, research is focused on critical areas of language and music and their intersection.

Our objective is to develop, within and across research axes, innovative and unique research and comparative approaches necessary for understanding language and music as highly developed neurobiological, social and communicative behaviours.