Research


I am interested in many different aspects of language. I have a real passion for language acquisition and development, and I worked with Prof. Roberto Peroni (Dpt. of Linguistics and former Director of the Interdepartmental Linguistic Centre of the University of Pisa) on the acquisition of Italian L2 both as an undergraduate and as a graduate student. I found this area of research particularly fascinating because it can help better understand how language and the mind work.

Since 2001, I have developed an ever increasing interest in English linguistics. At present, my main research areas are lexical semantics and pragmatics. The fact that, despite the many different ways in which each and every one of us conceives the world in his or her own mind, we can still manage to understand each other in such an efficient way, never ceases to fascinate me. I am also interested in translation and in contrastive analysis of the Italian and English linguistic systems.

As a PhD student at the Department of English Studies of the University of Pisa, I carried out a lexical semantic study of the intricate semantic domain of English verbs of cognitive attitude, with the purpose of creating a “map” of the conceptual dimensions lexicalized by these verbs. My PhD thesis resulted in a book published in 2007 where I expanded on my PhD analysis applying the theory of Lexical Complexity (Bertuccelli Papi 2005, Merlini Barbaresi 2003, 2005), in several articles published in Italian and international scholarly journals and in papers presented at conferences in Italy and abroad.

I am also very interested in the Relevance-theoretic approach to word meaning and, in particular, the conceptual-procedural distinction and I am presently working on how the latter can contribute to a better understanding of the semantics and pragmatics of verbs of cognitive attitude in English and Italian.

Over the past few years, I have also been working on ESP, and more specifically on tourism English. I published a book on this topic in 2006: Sun, Sea, Sex and the Unspoilt Countryside. How the English Language makes Tourists out of Readers (Pari Publishing). The book is a study of the way in which English is used across genres in tourism discourse in order to depict locations in such a way as to attract different types of tourists. It is meant to be used in class, but it also includes more theoretical sections. I am planning to continue investigating several linguistic phenomena of the language of tourism.

I have been a member of the Pisan research team in several National Research Projects, among which the co-financed MIUR “Online Language and Translation” Project. (National Project Manager: Prof. Carol Taylor Torsello) and the co-financed MIUR project called “Glossari, Dizionari, Corpora: Lessicologia e Lessicografia delle Lingue Europee” (National Project Manager: Prof. Giovanni Iamartino).

I have recently completed a six-month research program funded by the  Centro Linguistico Interdipartimentale during which I researched the possible application of theories of complex adaptive systems to the study of second language vocabulary acquisition and learning and I have  just been awarded a two-year research contract funded by the same center to expand the research to other second and foreign language learning areas.

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