AcqVA Aurora

UiT Aurora Center for Language Acquisition, Variation & Attrition: The Dynamic Nature of Languages in the Mind

About AcqVA Aurora

AcqVA Aurora is a UiT Aurora Centre (2020-2024), part of a competitive scheme to strengthen promising research groups. The funding (NOK 30 million) covers four postdoc positions, four Professor II positions, one lab manager and one permanent (associate/full) professorship, as well as general running costs.

AcqVA Aurora is also a branch of the research community AcqVA, a joint UiT/NTNU research initiative which was established in 2015 and which has resulted in numerous projects and publications.

The following is a brief description of the work in AcqVA Aurora (see more under Themes):
Humans are unique among animals in that we have language, a complex system enabling com­muni­cation about any topic, be it past, present or future. In fact, humans are not limited to one language, but can acquire several under the right conditions. Nevertheless, bi- and multilingualism is not an either-or pheno­menon, as multi­lingual minds may (and typically do) undergo numerous changes across the lifespan, as a result of linguistic and non-linguistic factors. This means that multilingual minds comprise dyna­mic linguistic systems, as co-existing languages affect each other in a multi­tude of ways, both in the acquisition process and beyond. The AcqVA Aurora Center conducts ecolo­gi­cally valid research, re­flect­ing today’s globa­lized world, where learning mul­tiple lan­guages at various points in the lifetime has become increasingly common. Our research focuses on a range of multi­lingual speaker groups and thus feed into current chal­lenges related to migration, education, and health, addressing important and yet unanswered questions for science and society.

AcqVA Aurora combines solid empi­ri­cal work with advanced theoretical (and statistical) model­ing in three domains:

A) Acquisition: how multilingual minds develop in children and adults,
B) Variation: how and why languages may differ considerably across individuals and groups in space and time, and
C) Attrition: how and why language erosion may occur over the course of the lifespan.

The three domains are studied within four cross-cutting themes, focusing on interrelated issues of multilingualism:

1) how linguistic and non-linguistic experiential factors shape linguistic and cognitive outcomes,
2) how multiple languages in the same mind influence each other,
3) how closely related varieties co-existing in the same mind are processed, and
4) how representing and juggling multiple languages manifest and result in adaptations at the neurological and domain-general cognitive levels.

More details and events you can find in our calendar

Research themes of AcqVA Aurora


The AcqVA Aurora Centre currently consists of more than 30 active researchers, including eight professors/associate professors, seven researchers/postdoctoral fellows with an additional five MSCA postdoctoral researchers, a lab team, four PhD students, and eight Professor II positions (20% adjunct professors).

The director of AcqVA Aurora is Professor Marit Westergaard and the deputy leader is Professor Jason Rothman.

Director and PIs

Other members