Hi. I'm a Reader in the Centre for Language Evolution at the University of Edinburgh.

My research focuses on understanding how languages are shaped by learning and use. I am interested in how typological universals (differences in the frequency of linguistic patterns across the world's languages) arise from properties of our cognitive system. To get at this, I teach people (children and adults) miniature artificial languages, and create computational models of their behaviour.

Recent Work

Acquisition of French liaison, winner of 2017 best paper in Language

Evidence for early abstract representations and the influence of features of the input on children's liaison production.

Cogsci 2017 poster: NP order universals

Silent gesture and corpus evidence for an isomorphism bias driving NP word order. See the paper: here

Cogsci 2017 paper: harmony in a non-harmonic language

French child learners prefer harmony too! See the paper: here

BUCLD 41, symposium 'How learners shape language'

Here are slides from my talk: 'A bias for simpler grammars shapes language in complex ways'.

Why do children use phonological cues over semantics in gender learning?

Salience and availability of cues drives their use in an ALL task.

Simplicity and domain-specificity in language

A domain-general bias (for simplicity) interacts with the linguistic system in unique ways.

Harmony bias when then input in consistently NOT

Recent talk at BUCLD 40: children change consistently non-harmonic language into harmonic ones, adults don't.

Harmonic biases for noun word order in children

Children (6-7yrs) a show very strong bias for consistent ordering, will switch numeral to match adjective order.

Greenberg's Universal 20 and scope-isomorphism

Learners infer order of nominal modifiers following semantic scope, in accord with Greenberg's Universal 20.

Universal 18 biases in PHG land

Probabilistic Harmonic Grammar model of nominal word order biases in learners leading to Greenberg's Universal 18.

Shape-based classifier learning

Adults rapid learn and generalize realistic a shape-based noun classification pattern.

Bayesian model of Universal 18 biases

A Bayesian model of learning biases parallel to Greenberg's Universal 18, uncovered in the lab.

Learning biases and syntactic universals

First evidence for learning biases parallel to Greenberg's Universal 18, concerning order of N, Adj, and Num.

The fate of French subject clitics

Evidence from child-directed speech of the change from clitic pronoun to affixal agreement marker in French.

Comparative acquisition of agreement

Explores asymmetries in developmental time course of subject-verb agreement in French, Spanish, English.

Acceptability judgments in (non-)linguists

Ph.D. linguists' judgments do not differ from those of the typical psychology undergrad (but task experience matters).

Get In Touch

If you have questions, are interested in working with me, want me to send you a paper, etc., get in touch!