Institutions: McGill University, Department of Linguistics
Research interests: Universal Grammar; Second language acquisition; Language transfer; Syntax; Morphology
Lydia White conducts experiments investigating properties of learner grammars in the course of development as well as in ultimate attainment, with a particular focus on syntax. Her pioneering work is acknowledged to have created a new framework for second language research, guided by the hypothesis that universal principles and parameters which underlie the acquisition of a native language by children apply also to the attainment of a non-native language by adult learners. At the same time, she has shown that mother tongue influence (‘transfer’) crucially determines many properties of the interlanguage grammar. Her current research (with colleagues) includes: the interface between morphosyntax and phonology in L2 acquisition; the interface between morphology and syntax; and L2 parsing.