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.

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

Scientific Advisory Board