Dr Laura De Ruiter

Honorary Research Fellow

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I study how children learn language. Specifically, I look at how they learn the mapping between mental representations and language. In the past, I have among others investigated how children use intonation to mark something as given or new to their discourse partner. Currently, I am studying how children of different ages interpret complex sentences that describe the relation between two events, and which factors influence that interpretation. 

I am also interested in children's acquisition of discourse pragmatics and discourse management: How and when do they start to signal to someone that they're looking for a word (using "uhms" etc.)? Do they monitor what they're saying and when are they correcting themselves? Or when do they start using so-called back-channels ("hm-hm") to indicate understanding.

Areas of expertise

Education / academic qualifications

  • 2010 - Doctor of Philosophy, Studies on intonation and information structure in child and adult German, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
  • 2005 - Master of Science, The influence of language dominance on bilingual VOT: A case study., University of Edinburgh

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