I work in a vibrant linguistics community at UiT The Arctic University of Norway, where I lead an active and productive research group on Language Acquisition, Variation & Attrition (LAVA). I also hold a 20% professorship at NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. Together with Professor Terje Lohndal, I direct the joint UiT/NTNU research group AcqVA.
I am involved in several research projects and networks. Our research in the Tromsø acquisition group has for many years focused on Variation in the Input – and currently the main focus is on bi- and multilingualism. Most of my research these days is centered around the MiMS project on Micro-variation in Multilingual Situations (funded by the Research Council of Norway 2016-2020). I will also be involved in two MSCA grants from August 2017 (DiVA and GenBiLex). Members of the LAVA group have received external funding for several other research projects, e.g. the SALT and DASAGO projects (funded by the Research Council of Norway), the NoRus and BIC projects on Norwegian-Russian immigrant children (funded by the Tromsø Research Foundation), the L3 English project (funded by Kompetanse for Mangfold), and the LAMBA project on the acquisition of Latvian (funded by an EEA Norway grant).
The LAVA group runs the TROmsø Language acquisition Lab (TROLL). Our work is based on corpora of spontaneous speech as well as various linguistic experiments with children and adults, mainly production experiments, and more recently also eyetracking.
My research interests include first, second/third and bilingual language acquisition, heritage languages and language attrition, as well as comparative syntax, both modern and diachronic. For many years, the focus of my research in these areas has been on the syntax of word order. More recently, my interest also includes the internal structure of the DP, especially grammatical gender, definiteness and word order in possessive constructions (see presentations and publications).
In cooperation with Professor Antonella Sorace and Bilingualism Matters at the University of Edinburgh, we run an advice and information service called Flere språk til flere for bilingual families and the general public, based on current research in the field.
Here are some recent publications:
Lohndal, Terje & Marit Westergaard. 2016. ‘Grammatical Gender in American Norwegian Heritage Language: Stability or attrition?’ Frontiers in Psychology 7:344. NB – OPEN ACCESS! Available here.
Rodina, Yulia & Marit Westergaard. 2015. ‘Grammatical gender in Norwegian: Language acquisition and language change.’ Journal of Germanic Linguistics 27.2, 147-189.
Rodina, Yulia & Marit Westergaard. 2015. ‘Grammatical gender in bilingual Norwegian-Russian acquisition: The role of input and transparency.’ Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, doi:10.1017/S1366728915000668.
Westergaard, Marit & Merete Anderssen. 2015. ‘Word Order Variation in Norwegian Possessive Constructions: Bilingual Acquisition and Attrition.’ In Janne B. Johannessen & Joe Salmons (eds.), Germanic heritage languages in North America: Acquisition, attrition and change [Studies in Language Variation]. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. NB – OPEN ACCESS! Available here.
Westergaard, Marit. 2014. ‘Linguistic variation and micro-cues in first language acquisition.’ Linguistic Variation 14.1, 26-45.