Overview of Our Research
Director of Research: Dr. Irene Walsh
The core research of the School is the scientific investigation of language, speech and communication. Empirical analysis aims, not only to uncover the structure of particular languages, but also, more fundamentally to elucidate how the process of language communication works. The goal is to understand the nature of linguistic structure, and how structural elements are coded and decoded. In the case of spoken communication, this pertains to how speech is produced and perceived by the listener; in the case of sign language it pertains to the coding and interpretation of gesture. Speech language pathology explores the communication processes that unfold in the presence of a communication dissonance linked to language or communication impairment and the impact on individuals.
Our research intersects with other disciplines, and draws on their methodologies. Sociolinguists focus on the relationship between language and society: psycholinguists model language encoding/decoding and how we acquire language. All these fields underpin the study of language pedagogy as well as language policy, language planning and language pathology. The growing intersection with engineering and computer science brings computational techniques to bear on linguistic and speech research, enabling the development of machines that speak and recognise speech, which in turn have many applications, such as providing communication devices for the vocally impaired.
The School’s research strength derives from the diversity of the research undertaken. The full description of each Discipline’s research is presented under their individual pages. Across the School, there are also emerging research themes, which form informal research clusters, and where we are developing cross disciplinary collaborations.
Listed here are areas of particular research strength, where there is parallel activity in the different disciplines and where we are targeting cross disciplinary initiatives. Note that this is not an exhaustive listing of the School’s research: for a full account of research activities of the School, please consult the research entries for the individual disciplines.