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Marit Westergaard

CASTL / Department of Language and Linguistics

Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education

UiT - The Arctic University of Norway
N-9037 Tromsø

Tel: (+47) 776 44256

Research interests and research projects
Teaching and supervision
CV (Short version)

Acquisition @ CASTL

Flere språk til flere


Variation in the Input

Flere språk til flere

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Kristin & Erik

I work in a vibrant linguistics community at the University of Tromsø (CASTL / Department of Language and Linguistics), where I lead an active and productive research group on language acquisition. The group currently has 12-14 members, including five PhD students. We also have a lab, the TROmsø Language acquisition Lab (TROLL). Our work is based on corpora of spontaneous speech as well as various linguistic experiments with children and adults.

My research interests include first, second and bilingual language acquisition, as well as comparative English and Norwegian syntax, both modern and diachronic. For many years, the focus of my research in these areas has been on the syntax of word order. More recently, my interest has shifted to the internal structure of the DP, especially the acquisition of grammatical gender, definiteness and word order in possessive constructions (see presentations and publications).

I am involved in several research projects and networks. My main collaborators at UiT are Kristine Bentzen, Merete Anderssen and Roksolana Mykhaylyk, as well as Yulia Rodina, who recently took up a job at MultiLing (Centre for Multilingualism in Society across the Lifespan) at the University of Oslo. Our research in the Tromsø acquisition group in recent years has focused on Variation in the Input. In 2010, we started an interdisciplinary research group on multilingualism at the HSL faculty. We have also received external funding for several research projects on bilingual acquisition, e.g. the NoRus and BIC projects (on Norwegian-Russian immigrant children). Recently the group has been awarded a 20% professorship, to be filled by Jason Rothman from August 2014. Jason is Professor at the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM) at the University of Reading and he will contribute to the research group in Tromsø with his expertise on heritage languages and third language acquisition.
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In cooperation with Professor Antonella Sorace and Bilingualism Matters at the University of Edinburgh, we run an advice and information service called Flere språk til flere for bilingual families and the general public, based on current research in the field. As part of our outreach activities, we also published a special CASTL issue of the magazine Ottar in 2012, with several contributions by the acquisition group. 

Here are some of my recent publications:
Westergaard, Marit. Forthcoming. ‘Linguistic variation and micro-cues in first language acquisition.’ Linguistic Variation.
Westergaard, Marit & Merete Anderssen. Forthcoming/2014. ‘Word Order Variation in Norwegian Possessive Constructions: Bilingual Acquisition and Attrition.’ In Janne Bondi Johannessen & Joe Salmons (eds.), Germanic heritage languages in North America: Acquisition, attrition and change [Studies in Language Variation]. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Westergaard, Marit. 2014. ‘Complexity and conflicting grammars in language acquisition.’ Second Language Research 30.1, 85-89.
Rodina, Yulia & Marit Westergaard. 2013. ‘The acquisition of gender and declension in a non-transparent system: monolinguals and bilinguals.’ Studia Linguistica 67.1, 47-67.
Kemenade, Ans van & Marit Westergaard. 2012. ‘Syntax and information structure: Verb-second variation in Middle English.’ In Anneli Meurman Solin, María José López-Couso & Bettelou Los (eds.) Information Structure and Syntactic Change in the History of English [Oxford  Studies in the History of English 2], 87-118. New York: Oxford University Press.