Jorge González Alonso landed a prestigious grant from the Research Council of Norway this June for the project LESS (Linguistic Economy through transfer Source Selectivity: A neurocognitive investigation of linguistic transfer in multilingualism). However, since he had already moved back to Spain, it was unclear whether he would accept the grant. After some negotiations with the RCN and UiT, Jorge has now decided to return to UiT in a 25% position for three years, starting December 1. The project will hire a postdoc for 2 years from the fall of 2022, and it will additionally fund a number of Research Assistants working on data collection, in Spain and in Norway. Here is a brief description of LESS:
The primary objective of LESS is to examine how the mind reuses and repurposes linguistic knowledge when it is similar across languages, helping to avoid repetition in learning, and how this efficiency is implemented at the level of brain function. This phenomenon, called linguistic transfer, can be studied most meaningfully in multilingualism (three or more languages), because the learner has more linguistic experience/knowledge available. This rich background raises the stakes: choosing the right language, the one that is most similar to the language we are learning, becomes a crucial task that can lead to shortcuts in learning or to costly errors that must later be undone. LESS examines the psychological mechanisms and neurophysiological correlates behind this unconscious selection. In the process, it secondarily addresses the role of core cognitive components, such as attention and memory, in detecting and tracking cross-linguistic similarities that lead to linguistic transfer.
This is fantastic news – for Jorge, for AcqVA Aurora and UiT, and for all of us who will have Jorge as a colleague again!