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Cambridge Language Sciences

Interdisciplinary Research Centre
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The Language Sciences Incubator Fund is a small projects fund to foster innovative and interdisciplinary research in the language sciences. 

The Incubator Fund was established by Cambridge Language Sciences with additional funding from the Isaac Newton Trust, Cambridge University Press & Assessment and the School of Technology, and is a small grants fund designed to foster innovative interdisciplinary research in the language sciences. 

Since the Incubator Fund was established in 2016, over £100,000 of seed funding has been awarded across 37 projects. As well as the opportunity to develop new ideas, collaborations and approaches, Incubator Fund projects can provide proof of concept or evidence of collaboration for larger grant applications. Other positive outcomes include knowledge exchange studentships, publications, fellowships and further career opportunities for researchers involved.

We hope to open the next call in the Easter term. Further information will be posted on this web page and circulated via the Language Sciences mailing list.

Eligibility & funding criteria

Since launching the Incubator Fund over £100,000 has been awarded to the following projects.

Awards in 2021-22

Generalising Native Language Articulation to Non-Native Contexts: A Benchmark and Evaluation Framework Dr Calbert Graham (Theoretical & Applied Linguistics), Konstantinos Voudouris (Dept. of Psychology & Student Fellow, Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence), Dr Yasuaki Shinohara (Faculty of Science & Engineering, Waseda University, Japan).

Predicting and mitigating contract clause conflict using AI  Felix Steffek (Faculty of Law), Ahmed Izzidien (Psychometric Centre), Rune Nyrup (Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence), Holli Sargeant (Faculty of Law)

Flexible processing in multilingualism: The case of innovative denominal verbs Dr Margreet Vogelzang (Theoretical & Applied Linguistics), Prof. Ianthi Tsimpli (Theoretical & Applied Linguistics), Prof Robyn Carston (Division of Psychology & Lang Sciences, UCL)

Awards in 2020-21

Using tone to predict code-switching in English-Vietnamese/Cantonese/Mandarin Dr Christopher Bryant (Dept. of Computer Science & Technology), Dr Li Nguyen (Dept. of Computer Science & Technology and Theoretical & Applied Linguistics), Kayeon Yoo (Amazon Alexa Text-to-Speech Group and Theoretical & Applied Linguistics), Katrina Li (Theoretical & Applied Linguistics)

Accents as honest signals of in-group membership Jonathan R Goodman (Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies), Professor Emeritus Robert A Foley (Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies), Professor Emeritus Francis Nolan (Phonetics Lab), Dr Emma Cohen (Social Body Lab, University of Oxford)

A linguistically-driven task on multi-modal spatial reasoning Fangyu Liu (Language Technology Lab, Theoretical & Applied Linguistics), Dr Guy Emerson (Dept. of Computer Science & Technology), Prof. Nigel Collier (Language Technology Lab, Theoretical & Applied Linguistics)

Developing an Old English lemmatiser Dr Marieke Meelen (Theoretical & Applied Linguistics), Dr Andrew Caines (Dept. of Computer Science & Technology & ALTA Institute)

Live voice vowel inference web app Dr Bert Vaux (Theoretical & Applied Linguistics), Dr James Burridge (Reader in Probability and Statistical Physics, University of Portsmouth), Dr Michal Gnacik (Senior Lecturer in Mathematics and Physics, University of Portsmouth)

Empirical evaluation of Graham's hierarchy of disagreement Dr Andreas Vlachos & Christine de Kock (Dept. of Computer Science & Technology), Dr Tom Stafford (Dept. of Psychology, University of Sheffield)

PerMaSC: Speech Perception through Masks in School Contexts Dr Kirsty McDougall (PI), Julia Schwarz, Katrina Kechun Li, Jasper Hong Sim, Yixin Zhang & Prof. Brechtje Post (Phonetics Laboratory); Dr Lizzie Buchanan-Worster & Dr Lorna Halliday (MRC-CBU); Dr Jenny Gibson (Faculty of Education)

DEliData: Deliberation Enhancing Data Dr Andreas Vlachos (PI) & Georgi Karadzhov (Dept. of Computer Science & Technology), Dr Tom Stafford (Dept. of Psychology, University of Sheffield)

Listening practice for English learners: towards an intelligent tutoring system Dr Andrew Caines (PI) & Prof. Paula Buttery (Dept. of Computer Science & Technology), Dr Mirjana Bozic (Dept. of Psychology), Mark Elliott & Dr Hye-won Lee (Cambridge Assessment)

Awards in 2019-20

Crosslinguistic influence in L2 word processing and learning Dr. Francesca Branzi (MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit), Dr. YaNing Chang (MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit), Dr. Dora Alexopoulou (Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, MMLL)

The evolution of speech: insight from variation in primate laryngeal anatomy Professor Marta Lahr & Dr Jacob Dunn (Archaeology), Dr Andrew Gillis (Zoology), Professor Tecumseh Fitch (University of Vienna)

Eye-tracking methods for lexical complexity assessment Dr Ekaterina Kochmar (Department of Computer Science and Technology / ALTA Institute), Ms Sian Gooding (Department of Computer Science and Technology), Dr Elaine Schmidt (Cambridge Assessment English)

Awards in 2018-19

Developing a large scale online study of L1 and L2 speech perception Dr Brechtje Post (Theoretical & Applied Linguistics), Dr Elaine Schmidt (Cambridge Assessment English), Dr Matt Davis & Dr Becky Gilbert (MRC Cognition & Brain Sciences Unit)

Named-Entity Recognition in Tibetan and Mongolian Newspapers Dr Hildegard Diemberger, Dr Thomas White (Mongolian & Inner Asian Studies Unit, Dept. of Social Anthropology), Dr Marieke Meelen (Theoretical & Applied Linguistics). Collaborators: Dr Robert Barnett (Visiting Scholar, Pembroke College), Dr Nathan Hill (SOAS) 

Collecting a Dialogue Corpus for Language Learning Dr Andrew Caines, Dr Helen Yannakoudakis, Dr Paula Buttery (Dept. of Computer Science & Technology); Dr Pascual Pérez-Paredes (Faculty of Education); Prof. Bill Byrne (Dept. of Engineering) 

Talk about mind and space: paternal and maternal contributions to school readiness Dr Elian Fink (Centre for Play in Education, Development & Learning), Prof. Claire Hughes (Centre for Family Research), Dr Henriëtte Hendriks (Linguistics)

Cognitive differences between bilingual and monolingual 'struggling learners' Curtis Sharma (Linguistics), Dr Joni Holmes (Centre for Attention, Memory & Learning, MRC-CBU), Dr Napoleon Katsos (Linguistics), Dr Jenny Gibson (Faculty of Education), Dr Jacalyn Guy (Centre for Attention, Memory & Learning, MRC-CBU)

The costs of faking it: exploring the role of accent in human social signalling Prof. Robert Foley (Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies), Jonathon Goodman (Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies), Prof. Ian Roberts (Linguistics), Prof. Francis Nolan (Phonetics Lab, Linguistics)

Automatically standardising two multilingual code-switched corpora Dr Theresa Biberauer (Computer Science & Technology/Linguistics),  Christopher Bryant (Computer Science & Technology), Li Nguyen (Linguistics), Sana Kidwai (Linguistics)

Computational psycholinguistic investigations of semantic graph representations Dr Andrew Caines (Computer Science & Technology), Dr Mirjana Bozic (Psychology), Giulia Boloventa (Linguistics), Dr Paula Buttery (Computer Science & Technology)

Awards in 2017-18

Language, Brains & Machines: an initial literature review Anna Samuel, Dr Andrew Caines, Dr Paula Buttery (Dept. of Computer Science & Technology)

Learning a language at your brain's pace Dr Henriëtte Hendriks (Linguistics), Prof. Zoe Kourtzi (Psychology), Dr Vicky Leong (Psychology), Dr John Williams (Linguistics) 

Neural encoding of semantic and syntactic information in bilingualism Dr Mirjana Bozic (Language Brain and Bilingualism Lab, Psychology), Andrea Olguin (Language, Brain and Bilingualism Lab, Psychology), Tristan Bekinschtein (Cambridge Consciousness & Cognition Lab, Psychology) 

'Bhavishya Shakti'- Constructs of a novel education intervention in urban slums Prof. Sumantra Ray (NNEdPro Global Centre for Nutrition and Health), Prof. Ianthi Tsimpli (Linguistics), Dr Minha Rajput-Ray (NNEdPro), Ms Ananya Ria Roy (NNEdPro) 

Multilingualism and subjective wellbeing in the family: a systematic review Dr Napoleon Katsos (Linguistics), Dr Jenny Gibson (Education) 

A personalised literacy and numeracy teaching app for mobile devices Dr Andrew Caines (Linguistics/ALTA); Dr Paula Buttery, Russell Moore, Dr Andrew Rice (Computer Science & Technology); Prof. Ianthi Tsimpli (Linguistics) 

A collaborative game-based approach to documenting linguistic variation in Brazil  Dr Ioanna Sitaridou (Spanish & Portuguese), Dr Paula Buttery (Computer Science & Technology), Dr Andrew Caines (Linguistics/ALTA)

Awards in 2016-17

Neural correlates of selective attention in bilingualism Dr Mirjana Bozic, Andrea Olguin, Dr Tristan Bekinschtein (Psychology); Dr Napoleon Katsos (Linguistics) 

Crowdsourcing an error-annotated corpus of spoken learner English Dr Andrew Caines  (Linguistics) & Dr Marek Rei (Computer Laboratory) 

Towards a parsed corpus of historical Welsh Dr David Willis (Linguistics), Dr Sheila Watts (German & Dutch), Prof. Paul Russell (Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic) 

The relationship between vision and reading in global and local language processing Dr Elaine Schmidt, Dr Luca Cilibrasi, Dr Ana Pérez, Prof. Ianthi Tsimpli (Linguistics); Dr Andrew Welchman, Prof. Zoe Kourtzi (Psychology) 

Historical codeswitching and language mutability in the history of English Dr Laura Wright (English) & Professor Ian Roberts (Linguistics). 

Multisensory semantic integration in inferential comprehension Dr Ana Pérez, Dr Elaine Schmidt, Dr Luca Cilibarasi, Prof. Ianthi Tsimpli (Linguistics); Dr Andrew Welchman, Prof. Zoe Kourtzi (Psychology) 

Multi-word expressions in spoken learner English Dr Paula Buttery (Computer Lab) & Dr Andrew Caines (Linguistics) 



Proposals are evaluated by a review panel. Priority will be given to those which

  • Promote interdisciplinary exchange and collaboration

  • Address emerging themes

  • Develop novel methodological approaches or tools

  • Are likely to lead to the development of further research grant proposals.


  • The lead applicant must be a full member of the University of Cambridge for the duration of the project, but external collaborators may be included.

  • Each proposal should be submitted by co-applicants from at least 2 different research groups.

  • Postdoctoral researchers are eligible in principle, but should check with their department. Applications should include a supporting letter from your research supervisor (where applicable).

  • PIs who are outside the Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages & Linguistics should notify their finance administrator of their application. Management of the budget will usually be delegated to the host institution.

  • Travel costs and workshops/events will not be funded under this scheme.

 Conditions of funding

  • Projects should be completed within 6 months of notification of the award. For the current call it must be feasible to carry out the work within this timeframe regardless of any restrictions due to COVID-19.

  • A brief report must be completed within 9 months of notification of the award.

  • Successful applicants will be required to present their research at the next Language Sciences Annual Symposium following completion of their project.

  • Financial support from Cambridge Language Sciences and the Isaac Newton Trust should be acknowledged in any outputs from a grant under this scheme.

NOTE: Employment of research assistants usually needs to be done through the University's Temporary Employment Service (TES). Please seek HR advice before including personnel costs as part of a proposal.

Please note that the 6-month time limit for carrying out the research will still apply under COVID-19 restrictions.



Since the Incubator Fund grant, we've been contacted by the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, University of Wales to collaborate on a related project using the techniques we've developed

Dr David Willis, Theoretical and Applied Linguistics ("Towards a parsed corpus of historical Welsh", 2016-17 award)


Preliminary data are novel and very promising, showing that bilingualism modulates the neural mechanisms for selective attention. […] The first manuscript based on this data set is currently under review and the second one is in preparation.

Dr Mirjana Bozic, Dept. of Psychology ("Neural correlates of selective attention in bilingualism", 2016-17 award)


We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Isaac Newton Trust, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University School of Technology and Cambridge English Assessment in supporting this programme.