“Nominal ellipsis in L2 Spanish: syntactic and pragmatic constraints”

The Interface Hypothesis (Sorace 2011) states that interfaces between internal modules of the grammar and external modules are problematic for L2 learners. We report on an experiment that examines noun ellipsis in Spanish, an area of interface between morphosyntax and information structure. Our questions are the following: (a) do advanced L2 speakers perform in a way consistent with knowledge of the syntactic restrictions that apply to noun drop? (b) do advanced L2 speakers perform in a way consistent with knowledge of the information structure restrictions regarding noun drop? (c) is there a difference in performance between French and English L1 speakers?

Spanish nominal ellipsis exhibits syntactic constraints including strict restrictions on the type of determiner that can appear in the remnant (el azul ‘the blue one’, *el con rayas ‘the one with stripes). French allows noun drop but is more restrictive regarding the type of remnant possible. English requires an obligatory overt pronoun or possessive.

Information structure is critical in the licensing of noun drop (Braver 2009; Eguren 2010) in most languages. Noun ellipsis is only possible if the ellipsis site has contrastive focus (‘This spicy sauce is delicious. What did you put in it? #I put peppers in the spicy one).

The present paper investigates whether proficient speakers of L2 Spanish are able to perceive these subtle constraints on noun drop. Two groups, L1 French (n=15) and L1 English (n=20) completed three tasks: (a) a production question-answer task based on a series of pictures (28 pictures, 18 target) eliciting different types of remnant; (b) a grammaticality judgment task consisting of 60 sentences that included grammatical and ungrammatical remnants, with different types of determiner; and (c), an acceptability judgment task that used questions and answers, 9 in which the gap referred to a contrastively focused element, 9 an unfocused one (therefore infelicitous) and 9 distracters.

Bi/Multilingualism and the History of Language Learning and Teaching

HoLLTnet international meeting:

‘Bi/Multilingualism and the History of Language Learning and Teaching’

University of Reading, United Kingdom, 6-7 July 2018

HoLLTnet (www.hollt.net) is a Research Network of AILA (L’Association Internationale de Linguistique Appliquée). The Research Network was founded in 2015 to stimulate research
into the history of language learning and teaching within applied linguistics internationally.
Building on several successful previous colloquia (www.hollt.net/events.html), this
international conference aims to situate the history of language learning and teaching in the
wider context of multilingualism across time and space. Possible topics for contributions
include, but are not limited to:

  • Bi/Multilingual dictionaries, grammars and other language-learning materials
  • Language learning and teaching in multilingual communities
  • Scholars of classical languages as learners of modern languages, and vice versa
  • Language learning and teaching in colonial contexts
  • The role of L1 in foreign language teaching
  • Polyglottism in the history of language learning
  • The role of translation and bilingual texts in language learning
  • Non-native speaker teachers in the history of language learning

All papers should be based on historical research.

If you would like to be considered for participation in the colloquium, please send your
presentation title, your name, email address, institutional affiliation, and a 250-word abstract
to r.mairs@reading.ac.uk by 23 February 2018. Those sending proposals will be notified of
the outcome as soon as possible after that date.

Further information on conference registration for those not presenting papers will be
circulated in due course.

The event has been made possible by the generous support of the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism and Department of Classics at the University of Reading. The university campus has quick and convenient transport links to London and Heathrow and Gatwick Airports. More information on getting to campus. 

Dr Rachel Mairs, Associate Professor of Classical and Near Eastern Studies, University of

Dr Richard Smith, University of Warwick, and Professor Giovanni Iamartino, University of
Milan, Joint convenors, AILA Research Network on History of Language Learning and

Download this information as a PDF

CeLM seminar: “Linguistic issues surrounding refugees”

 “Linguistic issues surrounding refugees: a study of migrant Facebook posts”


Guest Speaker: Dr. Mohammed Ateek, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge

Code switching is a widely observed phenomenon, especially seen in multilingual and multicultural communities. Migration plays a large role in forming these communities. it is widely known that code-switching and translanguaging are common communicative practices within migrant communities. Therefore to understand migrant communities, such as the recent waves of refugees coming from countries like Syria and Iraq, we should gain a good understanding of their communicative practices, experiences and identity.

Social media has supported the emergence of global multilingual networks and facilitated unbounded spaces for interaction amongst diasporic groups. Research (e.g. Androutsopoulos 2006) shows how multilingual practices on social media functions to construct and negotiate diasporic experience and identities, and has illustrated how code choice and switching are strategically invoked to mark boundaries between in- and out-groups and to negotiate subject experience and rhetorical positions.

In this paper we will report on a pilot study of Facebook (FB) posts written by 7 Syrian refugees over the initial period (first year) of their settlement within the UK. Our study seeks to explore the dynamic and stable linguistic (and semiotic) practices of individuals as they integrate into life in the UK and to explore the (un)-bounded affordances of social media as a unique platform of communication amongst refugees. The study of language choice and translanguaging on FB provides a window through which to view how the practices of this particular group reflect and create a new set of identities specific to them. As such this material reinforces and complements other sources of data about the linguistic and identity-related issues which such groups face.

Other linguistic issues such as the use of Language Analysis for the Determination of Origin (LADO), the hierarchy of languages and the host country policies for language education are also discussed in the seminar.

Cross-talk between language and executive control in neurodegenerative diseases


CeLM Seminar


Cross-talk between language and executive control in neurodegenerative diseases

 by   Marco Calabria (Center for Brain and Cognition, Pompeu Fabra University, Spain, Barcelona)

Date                     Tues 6th March 2018

Time                     16h15 – 17h15

Venue                  Edith Morley 124

The control mechanisms that supervise the orchestration of the linguistic processes seem to be related to the executive control system. In the context of bilingualism, the interaction between control and linguistic processes is especially apparent as bilinguals need to avoid the potential interference from the irrelevant language. Despite the research is now providing more and more evidence on the cross-talk of these two domains, it remains unclear the nature of the underlying common mechanisms. In my talk I will try to show how the research with bilingual speakers with neurodegenerative diseases may contribute to the debate on the ‘domain-specific’ vs. ‘domain-general’ nature of the control mechanisms. I will show evidence of associations vs. dissociations of deficits from single-case and group studies of bilingual patients with  Parkinson’s or Huntington’s disease to define a more comprehensive framework that includes sub-components of processes. Finally, the potential implications of the non-linguistic control will be also discussed for bilingual aphasia.







Does using a special font help children with dyslexia to read more fluently?

In recent years, a number of specialist fonts have been developed which claim to help people with dyslexia to read more easily and fluently. The main idea is that by increasing space between letters and designing letters that are distinctive in terms of their height and shape, letters will be less confusable (for example letters such as b and d which are identical when reversed) and therefore reading can progress more easily. Sounds plausible, doesn’t it?

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“People who learn German like shouting because that’s what Germans do”


CeLM Seminar


“People who learn German like shouting because that’s what Germans do”


by           Heike Krüsemann (University of Reading)


Date                     Tues 9th January 2018

Time                     16h15 – 17h15

Venue                  Palmer G04


This paper is based on a mixed methods PhD project which explored how German is conceptualised and represented in UK school settings and the press, and investigated the relationship between discourses around German, learner motivation and uptake of German in UK secondary schools. The participants of the study were 13-15 year old German learners from a range of UK secondary schools who had all recently made a decision regarding their future German-learning, as well as German teachers and head teachers. Underpinned by a multi-disciplinary theoretical framework, the research instruments (learner questionnaires and focus groups) were designed to probe students’ beliefs and attitudes through metaphor elicitation as well as more traditional Likert-type items. The learner data were coded into framing categories before the results were related to both German-continuers’ and German-droppers’ macro-context, such as their socio-economic background. Adolescent German-learners’ discourses around German were then compared those of teachers and head teachers (elicited through interviews), and with wider discourses currently in circulation. For this purpose, a specialised corpus of 40.000+ articles on German, the Germans and Germany from a range of UK national newspapers was compiled, and methods from the field of corpus-assisted discourse studies (CADS) employed for its analysis. Through its exploration of the relationship between public linguistic patterns around German, the Germans and Germany with those found in grassroots discourses by key players (learners and teachers) in school settings, the study links grassroots and societal attitudes towards German with questions about the future of German-learning in UK secondary schools.


Heike Krüsemann | Research Assistant and PhD Researcher | University of Reading, Institute of Education, London Road Campus, building L33 room 115, 4 Redlands Road, Reading, RG1 5EX | + 44(0) 118 378 2645 | h.kruesemann@reading.ac.uk | http://germanintheuk.com | https://twitter.com/HeikeKruesemann





CeLM Seminar – ‘ Speaking foreign languages from the heart ‘

 by           Jon Andoni Duñabeitia (BCBL)


Date                     Tues 14th November 2017

Time                     16h15 – 17h15

Venue                  Edith Morley 127

Native languages are typically acquired in emotionally neutral academic environments. As a consequence of this difference, it has been suggested that bilinguals’ emotional reactivity in foreign language contexts is reduced as compared to native language contexts. In this talk I will present different studies that demonstrate how pervasive foreign language effects can be and how they can alter seemingly automatic responses that are of clear importance in our daily life. I will also discuss some of the limits of these effects and I’ll provide some ideas to counteract these effects by adopting new educational approaches in foreign language teaching.Griswlod, A. (2016). http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/for-children-with-autism-multiple-languages-may-be-a-boon/

CeLM Seminar Series

“Bilingual reference production: A multifactorial approach.”

Jacopo Torregrossa, University of Hamburg

CeLM Seminar Series

“Intergenerational language attrition and loss in bilingual families in Europe: A threat to Harmonious Bilingual Development.”

Annick De Houwer, University of Erfurt

CeLM Seminar Series

” A Cantonese AphasiaBank with multi-faceted and multi-modal annotation of linguistic and gestural information of aphasic narratives: A database to facilitate cross-linguistic studies”

Anthony Pak Hin Kong, University of Central Florida