Cross-linguistic studies are key to theory-building in linguistics. This part of the program will confront theories of speech and language processing with many new data points, diversifying and modernising our evidential base.
We will examine multiple components of language in cross-linguistic perspective, from the basic building blocks to all higher levels of linguistic structure.
We will focus on languages of our region, the large linguistic diversity of which enables us to ask new questions of exceptional scope. For instance, do sentence and word prosody interact differently in polysynthetic languages (such as many Australian Indigenous languages) versus agglutinative languages (Japanese, Korean), analytic languages (Bislama) or synthetic languages (English, Bengali), or tone languages (Chinese)?
Similarly, how do the unique typological features of these languages influence grammatical processing? Can we build computational models that are flexible enough to capture this diversity, as the human processing mechanism so exquisitely can?
The answers to these questions will not only have substantial theoretical impact, but are directly relevant to the development of research technologies for speech recognition or automated parsing for translation.
The Centre's inaugural Annual Public Lecture by Prof Anne Cutler gives a clear overview of this research and its implications.