I am a DPhil student in the Department of Education, in collaboration with the Department of Experimental Psychology.
I work with preschool children who speak Greek at home and learn English at school, and aim to find out how their English develops. For example, does children’s knowledge of Greek affect their development of English? Is the amount of English children hear at school important? Does the quality of the English that children hear matter in the course of their linguistic development? To answer these -and more- questions I ask preschool children to participate in various experimental language production tasks, like narrating stories and describing pictures. These tasks allow me to see how children use morphosyntactic structures (small and often imperceptible linguistic features, like the ‘-s' at the end of plural nouns) in English that either have or do not have corresponding versions in Greek.
You can read more about me and my research on my Department of Education page
My favourite word
My favourite childhood book
My favourite word is the Aromanian ‘kurkubeta' (pronounced /kuːɾkuːˈbɛtə/), which means ‘pumpkin’. Aromanian is a minority language of Greece that my grandparents used to speak. My grandad used this word to describe a person who was acting silly (perhaps because their brain was emptied, like a carved pumpkin for Halloween). I always loved the sound of this word and found my grandad’s metaphorical use of it funny. I remember that I laughed every time I heard him say it, and he would call me a kurkubeta, too…!
My favourite children's book is ‘The 88 Dolmadakia’ by the Greek author Eugene Trivizas (note: 'dolmadakia' are vine leaves stuffed with rice - a delicious Greek appetiser!). This book starts with the main character, a little girl called Emma, picking up the phone at her house. But what happens then is all up to the readers, who must make a choice at the end of each page (for example, who is calling: Emma’s best friend or a stranger?). Depending on their choices, readers are directed to different pages of the book and thus, read their own stories which, in turn, can be happy or sad, funny or scary, the same or different each time! And if a very keen reader tries out all the possible choices and combinations, he or she will discover that the book contains 88 short stories in total…!