Marit Westergaard

I work in a vibrant linguistics community at UiT The Arctic University of Norway, where I am Director of the AcqVA Aurora Centre (Acquisition, Variation & Attrition): The Dynamic Nature of Languages in the Mind. 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. Terje and I are also leading the project MultiGender: A Multilingual Approach to Grammatical Gender at the Centre for Advanced Study (Oslo), 2019-2020 (extended to 2021).

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 2016-2021). I am also involved in a number of MSCA projects. Members of our research community have received external funding for several other research projects, e.g. MuMIN, MultiLit and SALT (funded by the Research Council of Norway) and the large-scale HeLPiNG project (granted from the Tromsø Research Foundation 2019-2023 to PI Jason Rothman).

The  group runs two labs, the AcqVA Aurora Lab and the PoLaR lab. Our work is based on corpora of spontaneous speech as well as various linguistic experiments with children and adults, mainly production and comprehension experiments, eyetracking and from 2019 also EEG/ERP and MRI (in connection the PoLaR lab).

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 the advice and information service Flere språk til flere for bilingual families and the general public, based on current research in the field.

Link to my ORCID profile here and my profile on ResearchGate here.

Here are some recent publications:

Westergaard, Marit. 2021. L3 acquisition and crosslinguistic influence as co-activation. Response to commentaries on the keynote “Microvariation in multilingual situations: The importance of property-by-property acquisition.” Second Language Research. OPEN ACCESS here.

Westergaard, Marit, Terje Lohndal & Björn Lundquist. 2021. Variable V2 in Norwegian Heritage Language: An effect of crosslinguistic influence? Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism. Available here.

Kupisch, Tanja, Natalia Mitrofanova & Marit Westergaard. 2021.The role of phonological vs. natural gender cues in the acquisition of German by simultaneous and sequential bilinguals (German-Russian). Journal of Child Language. OPEN ACCESS here.

Westergaard, Marit. 2019. Microvariation in Multilingual Situations: The Importance of Property-by-Property Acquisition. Keynote article in Second Language Research. Available here. Postprint available here.

Busterud, Guro, Terje Lohndal, Yulia Rodina & Marit Westergaard. 2019. The loss of feminine gender in Norwegian: A dialect comparison. Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics. Available here.

Anderssen, Merete, Björn Lundquist & Marit Westergaard. 2018. ‘Crosslinguistic similarities and differences in bilingual acquisition and attrition: Possessives and double definiteness in Norwegian heritage language.’ Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 21:4, 748-764. doi: 10.1017/S1366728918000330. Available here.

Mitrofanova, Natalia, Yulia Rodina, Olga Urek & Marit Westergaard. 2018. ‘Bilinguals’ sensitivity to grammatical gender cues in Russian: the role of cumulative input, proficiency, and dominance.’ Frontiers in Psychology, doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01894. NB – OPEN ACCESS! 

Westergaard, Marit, Natalia Mitrofanova, Roksolana Mykhaylyk & Yulia Rodina. 2017. ‘Crosslinguistic influence in the acquisition of a third language: The Linguistic Proximity Model.’ International Journal of Bilingualism. DOI: 10.1177/1367006916648859. Post-print version here.


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