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Elspeth Wilson


ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow

E-mail Address


+ 44 (0)1223 767641


  • PhD, Linguistics, University of Cambridge
  • MPhil, Linguistics, University of Cambridge

Membership of Professional Bodies/Associations

  • ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship 2019–2021
  • ESRC PhD Studentship 2013–2017
  • Trinity Hall MPhil Studentship 2012–2013

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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.

Academic Area/Links

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Research Topics

  • Developmental pragmatics
  • Experimental pragmatics
  • Language acquisition
  • Multilingualism
  • Reading inferences

Course involvement

  • Director of Studies, Linguistics, Hughes Hall

Current Research Project(s)

  • ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (2019-2021) Children's communicative development - bringing experimental pragmatics to the classroom
  • MML Impact Fund Cambridge Bilingualism Network – Multilingual families and antenatal teaching PI Napoleon Katsos
  • ESRC Impact Acceleration Account, 2/2017-11/2017 Multilingualism for wellbeing: defining routes to impact among community language learners PI Napoleon Katsos, Co-Is Brechtje Post and Ianthi Tsimpli, Team: Lisa-Maria Müller and Elspeth Wilson
  • Language Sciences Incubator Fund, 3/2018-6/2018 Multilingualism and subjective wellbeing in the family: a systematic review PIs Napoleon Katsos and Jenny Gibson; Lisa-Maria Müller, Elspeth Wilson

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Principal and Recent Publications

Mueller, L-M., Howard, K., Wilson, E., Gibson, J., and Katsos., N (submitted) Multilingualism in the Family and Child Well-being: a scoping review.

Wilson, E., Lawrence, R. and Katsos, N. (in prep). The role of perspective-taking in children’s pragmatic inferencing.

Katsos, N., and Wilson, E. (in press). Acquiring implicatures. In Schneider, Klaus P., and Ifantidou, Elly (Eds.) Developmental and Clinical Pragmatics. Berlin, Boston: de Gruyter Mouton.

Wilson, E. and Katsos, N., (2016). In a manner of speaking: an empirical investigation of Manner Implicatures. In F. Salfner and U. Sauerland (Eds.), Preproceedings of Trends in Experimental Pragmatics (TiXPrag Workshop), Berlin.

Elspeth Wilson

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