Dr Catherine Laing
I am part of the Centre for Language and Communication Research. My research focuses primarily on first language acquisition, specifically phonological acquisition (both perception and production). I am particularly interested in infants’ transition from babble to speech, and how this is shaped by internal and external factors.
Before moving to Cardiff I worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Duke University, North Carolina, based in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience. I have also worked at the Universities of York and Huddersfield.
Education and Qualifications
2016 – 2017: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Duke University, North Carolina, USA
2012 – 2015: PhD Linguistics, University of York, UK
2009 – 2010: MA Linguistics, University of York, UK
2005 – 2009: BA French and German (Language and Linguistics), University of York, UK
Honours and awards
2015. Humanities Research Centre Doctoral Fellowship Award, Language and Linguistic Science. University of York, UK.
2014. Three Minute Thesis competition, 2nd prize: “What does the cow say?” And what can it do for us? University of York, UK.
2014: WRDTC Interdisciplinary Network Funding, PENCIL Project.
2013: ESRC Overseas Institutional Visit, University of Stockholm, Sweden.
2012 - 2015: ESRC WR DTC (3) Scholarship, 2012-2015.
Associate Lecturer, University of York, UK
Visiting Lecturer, Huddersfield University, UK
Visiting Research Fellow, Stockholm University, Sweden
July 2017. Laing, C. E. & Bergelson, E. More siblings means lower input quality in early language development. Paper presented at CogSci 2017, London, UK, 27th July 2017.
July 2017. Laing, C. E. Producibility and accuracy in early acquisition: The case for onomatopoeia. Paper presented at IASCL 2017, Lyon, France, 21st July 2017.
November 2016. Laing, C. E. ‘What does the cow say?’ An analysis of onomatopoeia in early interactions. Paper presented at the 41st Boston University Conference on Child Language Development (BUCLD), Boston University, MA, 5th November 2016.
July 2015. Laing, C. E. Interaction and onomatopoeia in early language development. Paper presented at the Child Language Symposium 2015, University of Warwick, UK, 21st July 2015.
June 2015. Laing, C. E. Is the early acquisition of onomatopoeia internally or externally motivated? Paper presented at the 2nd International Workshop on Infant Language Development (WILD), Stockholm, Sweden, 12th June 2015.
March 2015. Laing, C. E. The iconic mapping of onomatopoeia in early word learning. Paper presented at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft (DGfS) conference, Leipzig, 5th March 2015.
Committees and reviewing
2017: Member of the Marketing and Recruitment Committee
2017: Coordinator of Cardiff BookTalk
- How Language Works
- Children, Language and Communication
- Phonetics and Phonology
- Research Experience
My research is in the field of infant language acquisition, specifically the phonetics and phonology of early perception and production. I’m interested in infants’ use of babble as a way to ‘rehearse’ and stabilize speech segments, and how infants’ developments in production influence their perception of the surrounding linguistic environment.
I work mainly with home-recorded data of infants interacting with their caregivers, analysing both input and output characteristics. To-date, this has included analyses of:
- the effect of older siblings on infants’ language development and input
- infants’ attention to objects in relation to on-line consonant production
- caregivers’ use of prosody
- infants’ use of extra-linguistic ‘sound effect’ features in early production
- the use of consonant harmony in early words.
I also have experience of using eye-tracking in experimental studies, and have worked with Tobii and EyeLink eye tracking hardware.
I am interested in how babble and first words overlap, and how infants’ earliest words derive from their babbling experience. As well as looking at the individual segments that infants produce, I’m also interested in ‘whole-word’ patterns. This relates to work from my PhD thesis, where I studied infants’ acquisition of onomatopoeic words such as ‘woof woof’ and ‘moo’. Onomatopoeia are a prominent word class in early production, and also happen to match the common phonological structures produced in canonical babble. Research following on from my thesis has considered the extent to which early words reflect the phonological patterns found in the babble phase.
- More siblings means lower input quality in early language development (in collaboration with E. Bergelson, see OSF for more info)
- Infants' early babble production is congruent with caregiver input (in collaboration with E. Bergelson)
- The role of iconicity in infant language development
- Bilingual acquisition from a phonological perspective: From babble to words
I am interested in supervising PhD students in the areas of:
- Phonological development
- Input effects and variability
- Bilingual phonological acquisition
- Perception-production interface
- Iconicity in language