Research Cluster

Language Decline: Attrition, Ageing and Impairments

Old hands resting on a wooden table with folded hands.

Exploring the range of the human language capacity

All forms of language development – including attrition, ageing and impairment – are an expression of the human language capacity.

For a long time, it was assumed that the human language capacity should best be studied in an idealised context – people learning and speaking only one language from birth. Any differences from this pattern, either because a person was exposed to multiple languages or was acquiring a signed instead of or in addition to a spoken one, or due to the presence of cognitive or developmental disorders and/or cognitive decline towards the end of the lifespan, was taken to be noise in the data that should be abstracted away from, rather than part of the signal.

It is only relatively recently that linguistics has come to understand that monolinguals are not the norm but the exception, that all forms of language development – including attrition, ageing and impairment – are an expression of the human language capacity and that they should therefore be studied on a par with those of monolinguals.

Our research projects:

Contact us
Contact us
Research Cluster Lead Professor Monika Schmidd
University of Essex
Centre for Research in Language Development throughout the Lifespan (LaDeLi) University of Essex
Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, CO4 3SQ
Telephone: 01206 872083