Research in General Linguistics
General Linguistics is the general study of the structure of languages and linguistic communication. Research at the Section for General Linguistics reflects the multifaceted discipline in many ways.
Much of our research relates to language typology, in a broad sense. Language typology is based on systematic comparison of linguistic phenomena within representative samples of the world’s languages. Possible topics include the study of a particular type of construction, e.g. the expression of ownership (grammatical typology), or within vocabulary, how a particular semantic domain, such as kinship or concepts relating to temperature, are structured in different languages (lexical typology).
In our section, there is also a strong interest in the factors that cause languages to develop and change. Such research may concern how a construction in an individual language develops new meanings over time, and what cross-linguistic patterns can be discerned in such development (historical linguistics, grammaticalization). Language change can also result from long-term contact between speakers of different languages, depending on the degree and type of contact (contact linguistics, areal typology). Another line of inquiry is how more temporary contact languages (pidgins) develop when they acquire more diverse functions in society (creolization).
These areas require descriptions of individual languages that are of high quality and typologically informed, and a number of our dissertations, inter alia, are of this type (descriptive linguistics, field linguistics).
Other research areas are language acquisition, including children’s first-language acquisition, and the influence of a second language on a third language. There is also experimental research on how different linguistic structures influence language understanding.
February 16, 2015
Source: Department of Linguistics