Linguistics and Multilingual Studies

The Linguistics and Multilingual Studies team was formed in 2008. A central thread that runs through much of the research in the Programme is an empirical approach to the the study of bilingualism and multilingualism. As the name - Linguistics and Multilingual Studies suggests, the faculty of this Programme work both on structural aspects of language and its impact on the individuals and the society at large. As a general principle, research conducted in  the Programme is focused on communication and therefore, has strong social significance.  Whether it is highlighting language and cultural endangerment, working towards a better understanding of cohesive social interaction, improving our knowledge of cognitive functioning across the lifespan, facilitation of language learning, providing insights into language management and harnessing computing resources to improve machine translation, our research team is always conscious of doing research that is socially relevant.

Geographically, Singapore, and its surrounding regions is characterised by the widespread practice of bilingualism and multilingualism. This is therefore, a living 'laboratory' for our researchers. Against this backdrop of linguistics and cultural diversity, we have in place, a vibrant research programme with a empiricism and interdisciplinary collaborations as our defining feature.

We welcome potential visitors, students, collaborators to look through our core areas of research and to contact individual researchers should you wish to be part of our research community.


Core Research Areas

Language and Cognition

Language & Cognition

Researchers:  Alice Chan Hiu Dan, Francis C.K Wong, Ng Bee Chin, Randy LaPolla, Francis Bond

The Language and Cognition Cluster approaches the study of language from a cognitive neuroscience perspective, focusing mainly on the neural and cognitive processes that underlie the acquisition, perception, and production of language. Faculty in our Division utilize neuroimaging, neurophysiological, eye-tracking, and psycholinguistic behavioural methods to research a wide range of specialist topics, including bilingualism, speech and language learning across the life-span, language and emotion, speech and hearing, and communication disorders.

​Subfield: Language and Emotion; Bilingual Conceptual Organisation; Cognitive Neuroscience; Brain & Language; Communication Sciences & Disorders; Events & Casuality



Documenting Endangered Cultures Language

Documenting Endangered Cultures & Language 

Researchers: Alexander Coupe, Ng Bee Chin, Francesco Cavallaro, Randy LaPolla, Francis Bond, Francesco Perono Cacciafoco

This research group links faculty members, postgraduates, senior undergraduates and visiting academics who share a passion for recording and analyzing minority languages in their cultural settings. The major research focus of this cluster is on documenting knowledge of the planet’s dwindling linguistic and cultural diversity and using digital technologies to record it for posterity. This primary data additionally provides a solid empirical foundation for team members to address theoretical issues in linguistics, including typology, multilingualism, language contact, historical-comparative linguistics, and many other topics that are germane to the discipline.

The group regularly holds Fieldwork and Linguistic Analysis Group (FLAG) meetings, in which research team members and academic visitors present papers and run workshops on language documentation methodologies.

​​Subfield: Digital Intangible Heritage of Asia (DIHA) ; Literacy; Deaf Communication & Sign Language; Lexicography; FLAG


Investigating Conversational Interaction

Investigating Conversational Interaction

Researchers: KK Luke

In this research theme our interest is in language and talk in interaction. By ‘language and talk’ we mean to include not only everyday conversation and face-to-face encounters but also communication between social agents in a variety of settings through a host of modalities, including ‘computer-mediated communication’. The focus is on the process of communication itself: how understandings are achieved through the use of language forms, multimodal resources, social cognition and cultural norms. A range of methods are employed including conversation analysis and discourse analysis.

Subfield: Conversational Analysis; Child Languages; Intercultural Communications; Pragmatics; Stance-taking; Interactional Linguistics; Mandarin Conversation; Multimodality in Interaction


Shifting Identities in Local and Global Interaction

Shifting Identities in Local and Global Interaction

Researchers: Francesco Cavallaro, Ng Bee Chin, KK Luke, Tan Ying Ying,  Ivan Panovic, Luke Lu

Our research examines and describes multifaceted language-related identity practices of people living in diverse, multilingual and multicultural contexts, where the available linguistic varieties tend to be socially marked, subjected to language planning and management, and in constant competition with each other, especially with the more prestigious and international varieties. We are particularly interested in issues pertaining to language shift, loss, or maintenance, as well as in ways in which language users, as active social actors, creatively interact with, or resist, hegemonic language ideologies.   

Subfield: Ethnography of Writing; Language, Attitudes & Identity; Language Maintenance & Shift; Language Planning & Policy; Ethnic Identities; Globalisation & Language Shift; Social & Cultural Construction of Literacies



Language Sounds

Language Sounds

Researchers: Tan Ying Ying, Alice Chan Hiu Dan, Francis C.K Wong

​​​​“Language Sounds”, as a cluster, brings together researchers who are working to understand the role of language sounds in human language and their correlation to larger issues such as cognition, acquisition, perception, and societal concerns such as identity, status and prestige. We approach these issues from phonetic, experimental, sociolinguistic, and engineering perspectives, working with broad topics such as accents, music, aging, and brain health.

​Subfield: Sociophonetics; Intonation; Tone, Prosody; Intelligibility; Hearing & Aging; Language & Music