Can we be multilingual in our own mother tongue?


About the research

There is only one stable grammar, which applies in all situations of language use, right? Not really, says linguist Alexandra Engel (KU Leuven). Her research shows that, depending on the formality of the situation, we use different variants of grammar - for example, you talk differently to your friend than to your boss. In a sense, we are multilingual in our own mother tongue. 

Alexandra Engel
KU Leuven

Fascinated by the pervasive and systematic nature of language variation, Alexandra set out to study the cognitive principles underlying variation patterns in language use. Particularly, she focuses on the effect of different settings and situational contexts in which language is produced every day. The main questions of her PhD research are which of the language-related factors determining grammatical choices vary across situations and whether speakers are sensitive to these situation-specific effects.

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