Unravelling the Multilingual Mind

How do we acquire and process language? What are the premises and potentials of our language capacity? Although there is a large body of research on and knowledge about these issues, the vast majority of studies are situated in Western, monolingual contexts, so-called WEIRD contexts (Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich, Democratic; Henrich et al., 2010). These only encompass 12 % of the world’s population, and barely 1% of the world’s languages. It is therefore urgent to broaden the knowledge base to include contexts where multilingualism is the norm and not the exception. South Africa is such a context, a country with 11 official languages and widespread multilingualism. This project brings together scholars from Lund University and Stellenbosch University to investigate the impact of everyday use of more than two languages. Ultimately, the project can shed new light on the human capacity for language. The network will also contribute to resource building to create the first psycholinguistic lab in Africa.