Ailís Cournane = [e’liʃ kuɹ’nan]
Assistant Professor, Department of LinguisticsNew York University (NYU).
Affiliated Professor, Department of Psychology, NYU.

I am interested in how children learn what words and structures mean, and how this learning process relates to the way languages change over time. My experiments and corpus studies focus on linguistic modality (e.g., must, have to, should, maybe), an area of language that expresses uncertain or non-factual information.

I lead the Child Language Lab @ NYU.

I am co-PI, with Valentine Hacquard (UMD), of an NSF-funded project that uses modals and attitude verbs as a testing ground to explore the precise relationships between how languages differ from each other, how languages change over time, and how children learn language.



Spring 2017:

  • Dunja Veselinovic and I will be presenting “The grammatical source of missing epistemic meanings for modal verbs in child BCS” at Formal Approaches to Slavic Linguistics (FASL) 26 at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign on May 19-21.
  • I’ve been invited to participate in the Penn Linguistics Conference (PLC) 41 special panel, “Current Issues in Language Acquisition” on March 24th. My talk is titled, “Child generalization, Language Innovation”.
  • “Parsing to learn phrase structure rules” has been accepted as a poster for the PLC41, Yohei Oseki is first author, with Tom Roeper (UMass) and me as second authors.
  • This semester I’m teaching First Language Acquisition for undergraduates, and a Seminar in First Language Acquisition (Modals and Evidentials) for graduates.

Fall 2016:

  • I gave a colloquium (“Learning to Change”) at Carleton University in Ottawa on November 11th.
  • This semester I’m co-teaching Language & Mind, the introductory course for NYU’s Language and Mind major.