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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli

photo of IT
Chair of English and Applied Linguistics
MMLL Faculty Co-chair
Theoretical and Applied Linguistics
Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages & Linguistics
Contact details: 
Telephone number: 
+44 (0)1223 760 809

Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics
University of Cambridge
English Faculty Building, Room TR-11
9 West Road
United Kingdom


Ianthi Maria Tsimpli  works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Dept. of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. She holds a BA in Modern Greek Literature and Byzantine Studies from the University of Athens and a PhD in Linguistics from University College London (1992). Her doctorate thesis was published in 1996 in the series Outstanding Dissertations in Linguistics, Garland with the title Functional Categories and Maturation: The Prefunctional Stage of Language Acquisition. She has extensively worked on the case of Christopher, a polyglot-savant, with Neil Smith (UCL) with whom she co-authored the book The Mind of a Savant: Language Learning and Modularity (1995, Blackwell) as well as a number of journal articles.  A number of articles and book chapters co-authored with Neil Smith, Bencie Woll and Gary Morgan as well as the book "Signs of a Savant"(2010, CUP) have also been published on a subsequent research project investigating Christopher’s ability to learn British Sign Language. 

Before moving to Cambridge, Professor Tsimpli taught Linguistics at University College London, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, University of Cambridge (Research Centre for English and Applied Linguistics) and Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. The Language Development Lab she founded and directed in Thessaloniki conducts research on first and second language development, bilingualism, SLI, Broca’s aphasia, native adult, child and L2 sentence processing and eye-movements. A large part of this research is externally funded through national and international research projects.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007 and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism, at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

Professor Tsimpli welcomes inquiries from potential MPhil and PhD students with research interests relevant to her interests.

Teaching interests: 

Language acquisition
Language Impairment

Research interests: 

Literacy and cognition
First and Second Language Acquisition
Language Disorders

Recent research projects: 

ESRC-DFID funded project Multilingualism and Multiliteracy: Raising learning outcomes in challenging contexts in primary schools across India.

Professor Tsimpli’s other recent projects were co-financed by the European Union (European Social Fund – ESF) and Greek national funds through the Operational Program "Education and Lifelong Learning" of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) - Research Funding Programs: THALES and Excellence I. The THALES project (“Bilingual Acquisition & Bilingual Education: The Development of Linguistic & Cognitive Abilities in Different Types of Bilingualism”) investigates the interactions between bilingualism, literacy and non-verbal cognition. More than 700 children, 8-12 years old, monolingual and bilingual from Greece, Albania, Germany, UK and the US participated in this project. The aims were to examine the effects of bilingual education and biliteracy on non-verbal cognition as well as on language abilities.  The Excellence I Research Programme entitled “Individual Differences in Anaphora Resolution: Linguistic and Cognitive Effects” aims to shed light on the issue of individual differences observed in anaphora resolution among healthy adults, young and elderly. The factors examined include domain-specific, linguistic factors such as lexical, syntactic and pragmatic complexity, domain-general abilities such as executive control and fluid intelligence, aging and language experience measured through print exposure and education levels.

Published works: 

Andreou,M., E. Knopp, C. Bongartz and I.M. Tsimpli (in press) Character reference in Greek-German bilingual children’s narratives. EuroSLA Yearbook 2015.

Kaltsa, M., I.M. Tsimpli and J. Rothman (in press) Exploring the source of differences and similarities in L1 attrition and heritage speaker competence: evidence from pronominal resolution. Lingua

Gagarina, N., I.M. Tsimpli and J. Walters (in press) Guest editors’ Introduction of Special Issue “Narrative Abilities in Bilingual Children” Applied Psycholinguistics.

Tsimpli, I.M., E. Peristeri and M. Andreou (in press) Narrative production in monolingual and bilingual children with Specific Language Impairment. In Gagarina, Tsimpli & Walters (Guest Editors) Special Issue “ Narrative abilities in bilingual children”, Applied Psycholinguistics.

Tsimpli I. M., M. Andreou, M. Kaltsa & E. Kapia (in press). “Albanian-Greek bilingual children in Albania and Greece: the effects on mother tongue literacy/education on cognitive abilities”, Albanohellenica 6.

Blom, E., J. Schaeffer and I.M. Tsimpli (2015) Guest Editors’ Introduction for Special Issue “Reference and Referentiality in native and learner grammars”. Lingua, 155: 1-8.

Papadopoulou, D., E.Peristeri, E. Plemenou, T. Marinis and I.M. Tsimpli (2015) Pronoun ambiguity resolution in Greek: evidence from monolingual adults and children. Lingua, 155: 98-120.

Torregrossa, J., C. Bongartz and I.M.Tsimpli (2015) Testing accessibility: A crosslinguistic comparison of the syntax of referring expressions. LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts.

Tsimpli, I.M., M. Andreou, E. Agathopoulou and E. Masoura (2014) Narrative production, bilingualism and working memory capacity: a study of Greek-German bilingual children. Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Greek Linguistics, 1730-1742.

Tsimpli, I.M. (2014) Early, late or very late? Timing acquisition and bilingualism. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism 4:3 (2014), 283–313. doi 10.1075/lab.4.3.01tsi. Keynote article and Response to commentaries.

Unsworth, S., E. Argyri, L. Cornips, A. Hulk, A. Sorace & I.M. Tsimpli (2014) The role of age of onset and input in early child bilingualism in Greek and Dutch. Applied Psycholinguistics, 35 (04): 765-805.

Tsimpli, I.M. (2013) (Evidence for) the language instinct. In Boeckx, C. & K. Grohmann (Eds.) The Cambridge Handbook of Biolinguistics. Cambridge University Press. pp.49-68.

Further Publications:

Papadopoulou, D., I.M. Tsimpli & N. Amvrazis (2013) Self-paced listening. In J. Jegerski & B. van Patten (Eds.) Research Methods in Second Language psycholinguistics. Routledge.

Prentza, A. & I.M. Tsimpli (2013) On the optionality of L2 pronominal production and interpretation: what (more) can VP-coordination structures tell us? In L. Roberts et al (Eds.) EuroSLA Yearbook, 13: 22-46. J. Benjamins publishers.

Prentza, A. & I.M. Tsimpli (2013) The Interpretability of Features in Second Language Acquisition: Evidence from Null and Postverbal Subjects in L2 English. Journal of Greek Linguistics 13(2):

Tsimpli, I.M & A. Hulk (2013) Grammatical gender and the notion of default: insights from language acquisition. Lingua. 137: 128-144

Tsapkini, K., E. Peristeri, I.M. Tsimpli & G. Jarema (2013) Morphological decomposition in Broca’s aphasia. Aphasiology. DOI: 10.1080/02687038.2013.853022

Peristeri, E., & Tsimpli, I-M. (2013). Pronoun processing in Broca’s aphasia: Discourse-Syntax effects in ambiguous anaphora resolution. Aphasiology, doi:0.1080/02687038.2013.828344.

Peristeri, E., Tsimpli, I-M., & Tsapkini, K. (2012). The on-line processing of unaccusativity in Greek agrammatism, Applied Psycholinguistics, 34 (2):233-276.

Mastropavlou, M., Tsimpli, I.M. (2011). Complementisers and Subordination in Typical Language Acquisition and SLI. Lingua 121, 4, 442–462.

Mastropavlou, M., Tsimpli, I.M. (2011). The role of suffixes in grammatical gender assignment in Modern Greek: a psycholinguistic study. Journal of Greek Linguistics, 11:1, 27-55.

Tsimpli, I.M, Papadopoulou, D., Mylonaki, A. (2010). Temporal modification in Greek adverbial clauses: the role of aspect and negation. In K. Grohmann and I.M.Tsimpli (eds.) Special Issue: “Exploring the Left Periphery”, Lingua, 120, 3, 649-672.

Fotiadou, G., Tsimpli, I.M. (2010). The acquisition of transitivity alternations in Greek: Does frequency count? Lingua, 120 (11), 2605-2626.

Peristeri, E., Tsimpli, I-M., & Tsapkini, K. (2010). The Processing of Unaccusativity by Eight Greek-speaking Agrammatic Patients. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 6, 176-177.