10 August 2010

Danielle Matthews wins British Academy Seminar Award

Danielle Matthews been awarded £20k funding from the British Academy to run two series of seminars and workshops on communicative development from a cross-linguistic and cross-cultural perspective. The award is based on a collaborative study conducted with Ana Carmiol at the University of Costa Rica. The funding comes to the University of Sheffield and the first seminar will take place in Jan 2011 and the second seminar in Jan 2012.

Project title: Communicative development: A cross-linguistic, cross-cultural comparison

Summary of research: In order to communicate effectively, a speaker needs to choose just the right expression such that an addressee can understand them given the current context and shared discourse. Children often find this task challenging and have to learn about the different tools their particular language makes available to convey information to an interlocutor given his/her prior knowledge. Gaining a command of the pragmatics of one's language in this way has fundamental developmental and educational consequences. Yet the processes that promote pragmatic development differ substantially according to language and culture. This programme is designed to illuminate these differences from a linguistic, psychological and educational perspective. The research element is based on a collaborative study of Costa Rican and British caregivers' interaction with their children. The seminars would situate this research in the broader context of cross-linguistic and cross-cultural research on both typically and atypically developing children.