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Linguistic with cultural relativity

Problem Statement
1. To what extent speakers with different cultural and linguistic backgrounds think
and perceive the world differently?
2. Instructed and naturalistic foreign language learners.

Interpersonal pragmatics and impoliteness.


(sociopragmatics, polieneess theory, speech act theory)

Sociql dynamis of interaction

Conceptual and ideological import of grammatical construction.


-mapping between meaning elements in language andimage

Bilingual cogntion
-what role do individual difference (working memory, intelligence) play in implicit
and explicit learning.

Examining the contribution of


procedural learning to grammar and
literacy acquisition in children
Children acquire language in their early years of life without explicit or formal instruction to the rules
of their language. A mechanism that potentially facilitates this is the ability to discover rules without
explicit awareness to those rules and to store these in long-term memory. This is known as procedural
learning. Deficiencies in this ability have been observed in children with specific language impairment
(SLI) and in children with problems in learning to read and spell (developmental dyslexia). However,
the extent to which procedural learning contributes to the acquisition of grammar and literacy and its
impairments is not known. Also, children with SLI and developmental dyslexia show overlap in the
grammatical and literacy problems that they experience, but the cognitive nature of this overlap is not
understood. This project therefore addresses three outstanding questions on the relation between
procedural learning and grammar and literacy in typically developing children and in children with
developmental language disorders. First, does procedural learning ability predict acquisition of
grammar and literacy longitudinally. Second, are deficiencies in procedural learning associated with
the linguistic problems of children with SLI and developmental dyslexia. Third, does the overlap
between SLI and developmental dyslexia stem from a shared deficit in procedural learning? To answer
the first question, a longitudinal study will be carried out which is novel in the field. The second
question will be answered by assessing several measures of procedural learning in children with SLI

and in children with developmental dyslexia. The results will be related to their grammar and literacy
scores. The results of the two groups will be compared to answer the final question and these will
provide novel insight into the overlap between SLI and developmental dyslexia. In all, the results will
determine the relative contributions of procedural learning to grammar and literacy acquisition

Race and Language


A student of sociolinguistics might focus on how a particular racial group uses a certain
language. A famous and commonly studied example is African-American Vernacular English,
known as both AAVE and Ebonics. Possible Ph.D. topics could focus more closely on the
linguistic aspects of Ebonics, such as the tones, rhythms and sounds that distinguish AAVE
from standard American English. Alternatively, students could focus on the social and
economic impact of Ebonics in American society.

Social Class and Language


A commonly studied sociolinguistics topic is the intersection of language and social class.
There are numerous examples within the English language where a person's social class
impacts his style of speaking. In Britain, for example, the "Cockney" accent is famously the
language of the urban working class in London, and so a student could study how and why
the working classes uses this style of English. Within the United States, similar examples
abound, and students could even focus narrowly on a single detail, like the class implications
of using the word "ain't."

How Language Changes


Sociolinguistics does not by definition need to focus on the present. Students, for example,
could focus on how the English language has changed over history. Students could choose to
go back very far in history, and focus on the origins of English, and the Norman invasion of
Britain's impact on language formation. In a topic like this, students might explore the
relationship between English and French. Alternatively, students might instead focus on
something contemporary, like gradual decline of the Boston accent in New England, or the
causes of regional accent differences within the United States.

Teaching and Education of Language


Students hoping to focus on a more methodological project could focus on the teaching and
education of a language. An interesting topic might be the different styles of learning English
as a second language. Students could closely examine how certain cultural backgrounds
affect a student's ease of learning a language, and why this is the case. Alternatively,
students could analyze new ways of teaching the language more effectively to overcome
hurdles that are common in ESL teaching.