Elspeth’s research focuses on children’s pragmatic development: she's interested in how children learn to make inferences to understand other people, when what other people literally say is often not what they mean. For instance, if in answer to the question 'would you like to go the theatre tonight?', a speaker replies 'I've got an exam tomorrow', you can infer that they wouldn't, even though they haven't explicitly said so.
For her PhD in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics (MML), she carried out empirical research with 3-6-year-olds to investigate their development of this kind of pragmatic inference, known as an implicature, and how children's ability to take into account a speaker's perspective plays a role. She is now continuing this research, while also exploring how it relates to reading inferences and how it can be applied in classroom settings. She also has an interest in multilingual development, and is an active member of the Cambridge Bilingualism Network.
Linguistics, Pragmatics, Languate acquisition, Multilingualism