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Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication (ACLC)

ACLC research lines within ABC

The Center

The Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication (ACLC) is a research institute within the Faculty of Humanities (FGW) of the University of Amsterdam. The ACLC is focused on the study of both functionally and formally oriented linguistic research. The strength of the institute is the broadness of its research and the interaction between different approaches.

Bidirectional phonology and phonetics

Programme coordinator: Prof. dr. Paul Boersma

Subject: We explain the typology of sound systems by modelling phonology as well as phonetics bidirectionally (i.e. we model the speaker as well as the listener), and by modelling the acquisition and cross-generational evolution of all this. Our framework is based on strict constraint ranking (Optimality Theory), but with four representations (two phonological, two phonetic) and with three constraint families that connect these representations to each other.

Key publications:

  • Boersma, P.P.G. & Hamann, S.R. (2008). The evolution of auditory dispersion in bidirectional constraint grammars. Phonology 25, 217-270.
  • Escudero, P. & Boersma, P.P.G. (2004). Bridging the gap between second-language speech perception research and phonological theory. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 26, 551-585.

Cognitive approaches to second language acquisition

Programme coordinator: Dr. Rob Schoonen

Subject: Fluent use of a first or second language, in all its modalities (listening, speaking, reading, and writing), consists of the online integration of many types of knowledge, ranging from the level of sound or letter representation to the levels of semantics, pragmatics and world knowledge. The nature of this complex integration process differs depending on the characteristics of the language, the individual's stage of language development, and the communicative situation (task factors). Furthermore, the ease or difficulty with which language users manage to perform a verbal task may depend on individual characteristics, such as working-memory capacity, grammatical sensitivity, and personality.

Key publications:

  • Hulstijn, J., van Gelderen, A. & Schoonen, R. (2009). Automatization in second-language acquisition: What does the coefficient of variation tell us? Applied Psycholinguistics.
  • Kuiken, F. & Vedder, S.C. (2007). Task complexity and linguistic complexity in L2 writing. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching 45(3), 261-284.
  • Van Gelderen, A., Schoonen, R., Stoel, R.D., De Glopper, K., Hulstijn, J. (2007). Development of adolescent reading comprehension in Language 1 and language 2: A longitudinal analysis of constituent components. Journal of Educational Psychology 99(3), 477-491.

Encoding grammatical information

Programme coordinator: Dr. Hedde Zeijlstra and Prof. dr. Fred Weerman

Subject: The ambition of this research programme is to find out how grammatical information is encoded in natural languages and how the knowledge that underlies it should be represented. Since evidence for or against a particular role or character of grammatical information may come from several linguistic subdisciplines, the programme aims to combine theoretical, diachronic, typological and dialectological work, as well as research into typical and atypical (early and late) language acquisition and spoken as well as sign languages. There is no a priori framework; rather, the strategy of the programme is to make use of insights and perspectives of several current theories.

Key publications:

  • Blom, W.B.T., Polisenska, D & Weerman, F.P. (2006). Effects of age on the acquisition of agreement inflection. Morphology 16, 313-336.
  • Orgassa, A. & Weerman, F.P. (2008). Dutch gender in specific language impairment and second language acquisition. Second Language Research 24, 333-364.
  • Rozendaal, M. & Baker, A.E. (2008). A cross-linguistic investigation of the acquisition of the pragmatics of indefinite and definite reference in two-year-olds. Journal of Child Language 35, 773-807.

First language acquisition, developmental language disorders and executive functions

Programme coordinator: Prof. dr. Anne Baker and Prof. dr. Michiel van Lambalgen

Subject: Theories of first language acquisition are increasingly considering the role of aspects of cognition. The executive functioning theory predicts that memory, attention, motivation and inhibition should play a part in the development of language. The goal of this group is to test these claims with children developing normally but also in children with developmental disorders. In children with ADHD, for example, their problems with attention appear to affect language behaviour; possibly other executive functions do as well. Language behaviour in children with such disorders is studied in the areas of morphology and syntax, pragmatics and verbal reasoning. Formal models of executive functioning will be developed which will help explain the data obtained.

Key publications:

  • Rozendaal, M.R. & Baker, A.E. (2008). A cross-linguistic investigation of the acquisition of the pragmatics of indefinite and definite reference in two-year-olds. Journal of Child Language 35, 773-807.
  • Blom, E., Polisenska, D. & Weerman, F. (2008). Articles, adjectives and age of onset: the acquisition of Dutch grammatical gender. Second Language Research 24(3), 289-323.
  • Van Lambalgen, M., van Kruistum, C. & Parriger, E.M. (2008). Discourse processing in Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Journal of Logic, Language and Information 17(4), 467-487.

Programme coordinator: Prof. dr. Frans Hilgers

Subject: Cancer in the head and neck area and its treatment can have debilitating effects on communication. Currently available treatment options such as radiotherapy, surgery, chemo-radiation, or a combination of these can often be curative. However, each of these options affects parts of the vocal tract and/or voice to a more or lesser degree. When the vocal tract or voice no longer functions optimally, this affects communication. The aim is to gain insight into the communicative difficulties encountered by this population, and whether speakers adapt to their physical limitations (learn to compensate). It is assumed that the physiological limitations place constraints on certain communicative and language functions, and ultimately affects language behaviour.

Key publications:

  • Op de Coul, B.M.R., Ackerstaff, A.H., van As, C.J., van den Hoogen, F.J.A., Meeuwis, C.A., Manni, J.J. & Hilgers, F.J.M. (2005). Quality of life assessment in laryngectomized individuals: do we need additions to standard questionnaires in specific clinical research projects? Clin Otolaryngol 30, 169-175.
  • Jongmans, P. (2008). The intelligibility of tracheoesophageal speech: an analytic and rehabilitation study, PhD-thesis, University of Amsterdam, ISBN 90-75575-15 7.
  • Van der Molen, L., van Rossum, M.A., Burkhead, L.M., Smeele, L.E., Hilgers, F.J.M. (2008). Functional outcomes and rehabilitation strategies in patients treated with chemo-radiotherapy for advanced head and neck cancer: a systematic review. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol.