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Modern Languages and LinguisticsPart of Humanities
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Professor Laura Domínguez PhD

Professor of Linguistics, Head of Department - Modern Languages and Linguistics

Professor Laura Domínguez's photo

Prof Laura Dominguez is Head of Department, and a Professor in Linguistics in Modern Languages and Linguistics at the University of Southampton

I joined the department in 2004 after receiving my PhD in Applied Linguistics from Boston University. My thesis analysed the prosodic and syntactic constraints of focus marking and how these affect word order in Spanish. Most of my research since has focused on investigating how adult speakers of Spanish learn these and other language-specific constraints. A revised version of my thesis, which also includes L2 acquisition and L1 attrition data, was published by John Benjamins in 2013 (Domínguez, L. 2013. Understanding Interfaces: L2 acquisition and native language attrition of Spanish subject realization and word order variation. Amsterdam: John Bejamins).

My research on syntax, second language acquisition and first language attrition is framed within the generative (Minimalist) programme. I teach modules in linguistics, mainly Spanish morphosyntax, research methodology, and first and second language acquisition.

Research interests

My research interests lie in the areas of language development (first and second language acquisition, bilingualism and language attrition), and syntactic theory (syntax and the interfaces, information structure, Romance syntax and Hispanic linguistics), both within a generative framework.

My research has mainly centred on the analysis of information structure and focus, in particular how word order in Spanish is affected by both prosodic and syntactic constraints. I have conducted extensive research on the L2 acquisition and attrition of Spanish word order and subject pronouns by advanced English speakers.

I am also interested in the acquisition of Spanish tense and aspect morphology, and how English learners of Spanish figure out that Spanish marks the imperfective/perfective distinction with specific verbal morphology, unlike English.

I am the co-director of the ESRC-funded SPLLOC project which investigates the acquisition of Spanish morphosyntax by English learners. SPLLOC is the first corpus of learner oral data completely open-access and freely available to the research and teaching communities.

I am the PI of an AHRC research project investigating native language attrition, changes in the grammars of native speakers as the result of learning a second language. Details can be found here.

I have been a co-investigator in a number of research projects, including:

  • PI: Monika Schmid (Essex). “International Network Grant on First Language Attrition”. ESRC (2015-2017).
  • PI: Amaya Mendikoetxea (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid). “Interfaces and variability in native and developing grammars: theoretical and methodological approaches”. MINECO (Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad), Spain (2013-2016).
  • PI: Amaya Mendikoetxea (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid). “Optionality and pseudo-Optionality in native and non-native grammars”. MINECO, Spain (2009-2011).

I am a member of the editorial board of ‘Second Language Research’, ‘Studies in Second Language Acquisition’, the ‘Spanish Heritage Journal’ and the ‘Journal of the European Second Language Association’.

Ex-member of the ‘European Second Language Association’ (EuroSLA) Executive Committee.

Member of the ‘ESRC Peer Review College’.

Associate Member of the Centre for Research & Enterprise in Language (CREL). University of Greenwich, UK.

Associate Member of the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM). University of Reading, UK.

Linguistics Association of Great Britain (LAGB) (ordinary member).

Recent research projects

SPLLOC 1 (April 2006-March 2008)

Linguistic development in L2 Spanish: creation and analysis of a learner corpus (SPLLOC)
Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the project had two broad aims: to establish a small scale, high quality database of spoken learner Spanish (ages 14-21), and to undertake a short programme of substantive research into L2 Spanish, including the acquisition of word order and clitic pronouns as interface phenomena.

L1 Attrition (June 2007-May 2008)

"Losing your tongue: first language attrition in monolingual and bilingual settings" funded by the British Academy.
This project explores in what ways immigrant bilingual speakers who have spent over 25 years abroad modify their first language (including their vocabulary and key syntactic structures) influenced by the new linguistic environment. Two different groups of subjects participate in this study: Cuban exiles who have settled in Miami and still use Spanish as the dominant language, and Spaniards who moved to the UK and have replaced their Spanish with English almost entirely. By comparing these two different groups the role that L1 and L2 input has on the linguistic competence of those who move abroad will be analysed.

Research project(s)

The Emergence and Development of the Tense-Aspect System in L2 Spanish (SPLLOC 2) - Dormant

This project has further developed the SPLLOC (Spanish Learner Language Oral Corpora) research programme and has included new data investigating the acquisition of tense and aspect by English learners of Spanish.

Vulnerable native grammars: the effects of limited input in native language attrition

Service to the Department (Modern Languages and Linguistics): 

  • Head of Department (2021-2024)
  • REF Champion for Impact (REF2021)
  • Deputy Head of Department (2018-2019)
  • Head of Research (2016-2019)
  • Linguistics Section Leader (2011-2015) 

Service to the University:

  • Member of the University’s Senate (2020-2023)
  • Member of the REF-Impact review working group (2021)
  • Member of the QS World Rankings Advisory Group (2019-2020) 

Other appointments: 

  • Member of the ESRC Grant Assessment Panel (2021-2024)
  • External examiner for MA (Taught) programmes in Linguistics and Linguistics and ELT at the University of Leeds (2018-2022)


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I convene a number of undergraduate and postgraduate modules in linguistics: Language Acquisition, Exploring Spanish Linguistics and Second Language Learning. I have also contributed to a number of other undergraduate and postgraduate modules in recent years, including Elements of Linguistics, Second Language Acquisition and Research Skills (MA Dissertation).

Professor Laura Domínguez
Building 65, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Southampton, Avenue Campus, Southampton SO17 1BF, United Kingdom

Room Number : 65/3057

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