Research in Linguistics at the Department of English Literature and Linguistics

Faculty research interests

Sharon Armon-Lotem The research at Armon-Lotem's lab focuses on language acquisition by bilingual children who have been diagnosed for Specific Language Impairment (SLI) and combines her work on monolingual and bilingual typical acquisition with her interest in children with SLI. Her research focuses on the one hand on the linguistic and cognitive phenomena which characterize language impairment and bilingualism in children, and on the other hand on the gap between the linguistic abilities of children and those of adults, all this against the background assumption that there is an innate language capacity which children make use of in the acquisition of language. Her research, supported by the ISF and GIF, has already led to identifying indicators of SLI in English-Hebrew bilingual children and have been expanded to bilingual Russian-Hebrew children.
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Michal Ben-Shachar Research in Dr. Ben-Shachar lab focuses on the neurobiological infrastructure underlying human language systems. We apply neuroimaging techniques such as functional MRI and diffusion tensor imaging to understand structural and functional properties of these brain systems, and relate them to specific linguistic functions in healthy and clinical populations. Ongoing studies include (a) The neural basis of stuttering, (b) Reading pathways and cognitive functions in adults with little exposure to print, (c) Language systems in patients with tumors, multiple sclerosis or stroke, reading; and (d) White matter development in prematurely born children.
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Gabi Danon Dr. Gabi Danon's research focuses mostly on the syntax of features and agreement, on the role of grammatical features at the interface between syntax and other modules of grammar, and on the syntax of the noun phrase. Specific research projects deal with alternations between multiple genitive constructions; the structure and agreement patterns of quantified noun phrases; and the use of non-agreeing subjects. His current work uses quantitative corpus methods and experimental methods for identifying robust and detailed empirical data on which abstract theoretical analyses can be based.
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Yael Greenberg Dr. Greenberg’s research focuses on semantics and its interaction with syntax and pragmatics. She works on the semantics of generic sentences (e.g. Dogs bark / A dog barks), on measurement and addition in the nominal and the verbal domain (e.g. John was still asleep / John slept some more / 3 more students arrived), and on the semantics-pragmatics interface of various approximators and hedgers (e.g. more or less / about / be-gadol). An active research project deals with the semantics and pragmatics of focus sensitive expressions, namely those expressions whose meaning and discourse-related effects depend on the placement of intonational stress in the sentence.
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Lior Laks Dr. Laks's main research fields is morphology and its interface with other components of the grammar: phonology, the lexicon and syntax. Dr. Laks examines word formation processes while relating to different types of criteria that play a role in the selection of morphological forms, productivity of word formation and the absence of possible words that conceptually could be formed.
His research also focuses on the issue of diglossia in Arabic and the grammatical differences between Modern Standard Arabic and Colloquial Arabic (Jordanian and Palestinian), as an issue with a first degree importance in the system of education and in teaching Arabic.
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Susan Rothstein Prof. Susan Rothstein's research focuses on the basic question what is the relation between syntactic structures and semantic interpretation. At present, she focuses on two main topics: crosslinguistic expression of counting and measuring and the semantics of aspect. She investigates both foundational issues, namely what is the semantic basis of aspectual distinctions, and crosslinguistic variation in the expression of these distinctions. She is now beginning to extend her research to explore the cognitive issues that are raised by the linguistics data.
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Elinor Saiegh-Haddad Prof. Elinor Saiegh-Haddad's research interests revolve around the acquisition of literacy and the relationship between oral language skills and reading/writing development. She is particularly interested in pursuing this question in contexts characterized by linguistic distance between the spoken (first) language of children and the primary language of literacy, such as the diglossic context of Arabic and bilingual (including second language/foreign language) contexts.
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Joel Walters Prof. Joel Walters' research in bilingualism draws broadly from sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics. Language is conceived as a social phenomenon with cognitive bases and cognitive consequences, a view which necessitates bridgework across these disciplines.
A Sociopragmatic-Psycholinguistic (SPPL) model of bilingualism with both a functional architecture and a set of processing mechanisms (imitation, variation, integration and control) was developed to account for uniquely bilingual phenomena such as codeswitching, code interference, and translation.
Active research groups are working on: acquisition of narrative abilities in Arabic-Hebrew, English-Hebrew and Russian-Hebrew typically developing and language impaired bilingual children; codeswitching in bilingual preschool children with specific language impairment and adult aphasics; social identity and language acquisition in language minority children.
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Galit Weidman Sassoon Dr. Galit Weidman Sassoon studies language and cognition, concentrating on acceptability judgment studies and empirical work with large corpora, as well as collaboration with neurolinguists. One ongoing project examines the way dimensions are glued together to form categorization criteria for nouns (namely, words like 'bird', 'table') and adjectives ('long', 'healthy') of various domains, such as natural kind vs. social concepts. An additional project studies the patterns of usage of expressions such as  'rarely/often' and 'slightly/completely'. These reveal a connection between the temporal and scalar features of adjectives. A third project investigates the ways children and adults classify entities under adjectives such as 'big' and 'small'.
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