Anna Theakston

Professor

A bit about Anna Theakston

I received my undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Nottingham, before moving to the University of Manchester to work on two ESRC-funded projects investigating early language development in children between the ages of 2-3 years. I was awarded my Ph.D. based on this work in 1999. I then spent a short period coordinating the then newly established Manchester-based Max Planck Child Study Centre, funded by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig. In 2000 I was appointed to a Lectureship at the University of Manchester where I am currently a Professor and the Head of the Division of Psychology, Communication and Human Neuroscience. Full details of my research interests, publications etc. can be found on my University profile page. As well as conducting research into children’s language acquisition, I teach on the BSc Psychology programme and supervise a wide range of PhD students working on different aspects of children’s communicative development. 

My role in LuCiD

I have been a Co-Director since the start of LuCiD and currently lead the From Simple to Complex research stream. In Phase 1, I led the Communication theme which focussed on discovering how children learn to use language structure to communicate effectively. In addition, I led three separate projects; The role of visual preferences in later language learning (Environment theme), The acquisition of complex sentences (Communication theme) and The acquisition of tag questions (Communication theme), and collaborated on many others.

LuCiD publications (96) by Anna Theakston

Zhang, S., Junge, B., Lieven, E., Brandt, S., & Theakston, A. (2023). The Competition Between Processing and Discourse-Pragmatic Factors in Children's and Adults' Production of Adverbial When-Clauses Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

Brandt, S., Hargreaves, S., & Theakston, A. (2023). Putting Complement Clauses into Context: Testing the Effects of Story Context, False-Belief Understanding, and Syntactic form on Children's and Adults’ Comprehension and Production of Complement Clauses Cognitive Science

Bell, K., Brandt, S., Lieven, E., & Theakston, A. (2023). The acquisition of English modal constructions: A corpus-based analysis Journal of Child Language, 1-38.

Kandemirci, B., Theakston, A., Boeg Thomsen, T, & Brandt, S. (2023). Does evidentiality support source monitoring and false belief understanding? A cross-linguistic study with Turkish- and English-speaking children Child Development, 1-16.

Lester, N., Theakston, A. & Twomey, K. (2023). The role of the natural history museum in promoting word learning for young children Infant and Child Development, ISSN: 1522-7219

De Ruiter, L., Lieven, E. V. M., Brandt, S., & Theakston, A. (2020). Interactions between givenness and clause order in children's processing of complex sentences Cognition 198, 104130.

Theakston, A. (2020). Where form meets meaning in the acquisition of grammatical constructions In C. Rowland, A. Theakston, B. Ambridge, & K. Twomey (Eds.), Current Perspectives on Child Language Acquisition: How children use their environment to learn, Vol. 27, pp. 131-154). John Benjamins

De Ruiter, L., Lemen, H., Lieven, E. V. M., Brandt, S., & Theakston, A. (2021). Structural and interactional aspects of adverbial sentences in English mother-child interactions: an analysis of two dense corpora Journal of Child Language, 48, 1150–1184.

Lemen, H., Lieven, E. V. M., & Theakston, A. (2021). A comparison of the pragmatic patterns in the spontaneous because- and if-sentences produced by children and their caregivers Journal of Pragmatics, 185,15-34.

Vihman, V-A., Engelmann, F., Lieven, E. V. M., & Theakston, A. (2021). Many ways to decline a noun: Elicitation of children’s novel noun inflection in Estonian Language and Cognition, 13(4), 693.

Rowland, C., Theakston, A., Ambridge, B., & Twomey, K. E. (Eds.). (2020). Current Perspectives on Child Language Acquisition: How Children Use Their Environment To Learn. Trends in Language Acquisition Research. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 330 pp.

Lieven, E., Ferry, A., Theakston, K., & Twomey, K. E. (2020). Similarity, analogy and development in radical exemplar theory: A commentary on Ambridge (2020) First Language, Vol. 40(5-6) 600–603.

McCauley, S.M., Bannard, C., Theakston, A., Davis, M., Cameron-Faulkner, T., & Ambridge, B. (2021). Multiword units lead to errors of commission in children's spontaneous production: “What corpus data can tell us? Developmental Science, 24: e13125.

Boeg Thomsen, D., Theakston, A., Kandemirci, B., & Brandt, S. (2021). Do complement clauses really support false-belief reasoning? A longitudinal study with English-speaking 2- to 3-year-olds Developmental Psychology, 57(8), 1210-1227

Ambridge, B., Rowland, C. F., Theakston, A. L. & Twomey, K. E. (2020). Introduction. In Current Perspectives on Child Language Acquisition: How children use their environment to learn. John Benjamins pp. 1-7.

MacDonald R, Brandt S, Theakston A, Lieven E, Serratrice L. (2020). The role of animacy in children’s interpretation of relative clauses in English: Evidence from sentence-picture matching and eye movements. Cognitive Science, 44

McCauley, S.M., Bannard, C., Theakston, A., Davis, M., Cameron-Faulkner, T., & Ambridge, B. (2019). Multiword units predict non-inversion errors in children’s wh-questions: “What corpus data can tell us? In A. Goel, C. Seifert, & C. Freksa (Eds.) Proceedings of the 41st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Bell, K., Brandt, S., Lieven, E. & Theakston, A. (2019). Does caregiver input influence children’s acquisition of modality? Poster presented at the Child Language Symposium, Sheffield, UK.

Theakston, A., Bell, K., Lemen, H., Brandt, S., & Lieven, E. (2019). Form-meaning relations in acquisition: the case of polysemous constructions. Paper presented at the Societas Linguistica Europaea 52nd Annual Meeting, Leipzig, Germany.

Graf, E., Theakston, A., Freudenthal, D. & Lieven, E. (2019). The subject-object asymmetry revisited: Experimental and computational approaches to the role of information structure in children’s argument omissions. IEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems.

Jackson, I. R., Parise, E., Reid, V., & Theakston, A. (2017). How is infants’ attention distributed between agent and patient in causal events? Third biennial Workshop on Infant Language Development (WILD), Bilbao, Spain.

Okuno, A., Cameron-Faulkner, T. R., & Theakston, A. L. (2019). Crosslinguistic Differences in the Encoding of Causality: Transitivity Preferences in English and Japanese Children and Adults. Language Learning and Development, DOI: 10.1080/15475441.2019.1685387

Finch, K., Theakston, A., Serratrice, L. (2018). Teaching modern foreign languages in multilingual classrooms: An exmaination of Key Stage 2 teachers' experiences. Language Learning Journal, DOI: 10.1080/09571736.2018.1448432

Junge, B., Theakston, A., Lieven, E. (2015). Given-new/new-given? Children's sensitivity to the ordering of information in complex sentences. Applied Psycholinguistics, 36(3), 589-612.

Theakston, A. (2015). Discussant: Building realistic models of language development workshop Manchester, UK.

Kliesch, C., Reid, V., Theakston, A., Parise, E. (2018). Ostensive-referential communication modulates action interpretation at 9 months. Poster presented at the 21st biennial meeting of the International Congress of Infant Studies, Philadelphia, USA.

De Ruiter, L., Theakston, A., Lieven, E., Hilton, M., Brandt, S. (2018). Is before easier than after in German too? Testing the relative influence of iconicity, ambiguity, and language-specific frequencies on the processing of adverbial sentences in German. Boston University Conference on Language Development (BUCLD 43) Boston, MA, USA.

De Ruiter, L., Theakston, A., Brandt, S., Lieven, E. (2017). The role of input frequency and semantics in English - speaking 3-5 year olds' comprehension of clause order in complex sentences. International Cognitive Linguistics Conference (ICLC14) Tartu, Estonia.

Macdonald, R. G., Serratrice, L., Brandt, S., Lieven, E, & Theakston, A. (2017). The influence of animacy on children’s online processing of restrictive relative clauses. Paper presented at the 3rd Annual LuCiD Language and Communication Development Conference, Lancaster, UK.

De Ruiter, L., Theakston, A., Brandt, S., & Lieven, E. (2016). Temporal, causal and conditional sentences in English child-directed speech. (1) Presentation at Complexity workshop (AG4) at the 38th DGfS meeting, Konstanz, Germany.

Engelmann, F., Kolak, J., Vihman, V., Granlund, S., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A., (2018). How the input shapes the acquisition of inflectional morphology: Modelling across three highly inflected languages. 43rd Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, Boston, MA.

Engelmann, F., Kolak, J., Vihman, V., Granlund, S., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A., Lieven, E. (2018). How the input shapes the acquisition of inflectional morphology: Computational modelling across three highly inflected languages. In Proceedings of the 24th AMLaP conference, Architectures and Mechanisms of Language Processing, Berlin, Germany.

Engelmann, F., Kolak, J., Vihman, V., Granlund, S., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A., Lieven, E. (2018). How the input shapes the acquisition of verb and noun morphology: neural network modelling across three highly inflected languages. Paper presented at Learning Language in Humans and in Machines (L2HM) Workshop Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France.

Kołak, J., Granlund, S., Vihman, V., Engelmann, F., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A. & Lieven, E. (2018). Acquisition of noun inflection in three languages: The role of input frequency and linguistic complexity. Poster presented at the Budapest CEU Conference on Cognitive Development, Budapest, Hungary.

MacDonald, R. G, Serratrice, L., Brandt, S., Lieven, E., & Theakston, A. (2017). The effect of animacy on children's online processing of relative clauses. Paper presented at Architectures and Mechanisms of Language Processing (AMLap), Lancaster, UK.

MacDonald, R. G., Serratrice, L., Brandt, S., Theakston, A., & Lieven, E. (2017). Animacy and children's online processing of restrictive relative clauses. Paper presented at the European Conference on Eye Movements (ECEM), Wuppertal, Germany.

Theakston, A. (2016). Artbaby-musicbaby-languagebaby. Presented at ESRC Festival of Social Science

Theakston, A., Lieven, E. (2016). What's the story? Stockport Early Years Improvement Team Annual Conference

De Ruiter, L., Theakston, A. (2017). First language acquisition. (1) In The Cambridge Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics (Ed. B. Dancygier) Cambridge University Press, 59-72.

Boundy, L., Cameron-Faulkner, T., Theakston, A. (2016). Exploring early communicative behaviours: A fine-grained analysis of infant shows and gives. Infant Behaviour & Development, 44, 86-97.

Kliesch, C., Reid, V.M., Theakston, A.L., Parise, E. (2017). Anticipation of familiar, unexpected and novel actions in ostensive and non- ostensive contexts in 7-month-old infants. Poster presented at the Lancaster Conference on Infant and Child Development, August 22– 25, 2017, Lancaster, UK.

Austin, K., Theakston, A., Lieven, E., tomasello, M. (2014). Young children's understanding of denial. Developmental Psychology 50(8), 2061-2070.

Graf, E., Theakston, A., Lieven, E., Tomasello, M. (2014). Subject and object omission in children's eaely transitive constructions: A discourse-pragmatic approach. Applied Psycholinguistics, 36(3), 701-727.

Granlund, S., Kolak, J., Vihman, V., Engelmann, F., Lieven, E., Pine, J., Theakston, A., & Ambridge, B. (2019). Language-general and language-specific phenomena in the acquisition of inflectional noun morphology: A cross-linguistic elicited-production study of Polish, Finnish and Estonian. Journal of Memory and Language, 107, 169-194. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2019.04.004

Engelmann, F., Granlund, S., Kolak, J., Szreder, M., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A., and Lieven, E. (2019). How the input shapes the acquisition of verb morphology: Elicited production and computational modelling in two highly inflected languages. Cognitive Pscyhology, 110, 30-69. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cogpsych.2019.02.001

Kliesch, C., Reid, V. M., Theakston, A., Parise, E. (2016). Infants' understanding and learning of expected, unexpected and novel actions in pedagogical and non-pedagogical contexts. Presented at the LuCiD Mini Conference, Manchester, UK.

Theakston, A., Davis, M. & Cameron-Faulkner, T. (2016). It’s raining, isn’t it? Children’s use of tag questions as a test case for the role of form-function mappings in early language acquisition. Proceedings of the UK Cognitive Linguistics Conference, p.154.

Vihman, V., Lieven, E. & Theakston, A. (2015). Practice with pronouns: Acquisition of differential object case-marking in Estonian. Paper presented at the Linguistics Association of Great Britain (LAGB) annual conference, London, UK.

Virve Vihman, Felix Engelmann, Anna Theakston & Elena Lieven. (2016). Variability in the input: Acquisition of Differential Object Marking in Estonian. Paper presented at the International Workshop on The Acquisition of Differential Object Marking, France.

Iain Jackson, Anna Theakston, Eugenio Parise and Vincent Reid (2016). Agents, patients, and actions: What is encoded in 12-month-olds’ perceptions of dynamic events? Poster presented at the Lancaster Conference on Infant and Child Development, Lancaster, UK

Anna Theakston & Stacey McKnight & Elena Lieven. (2015). My do it! Explanations for children’s case marking errors in English. Invited Syposium at the Developmental Section conference of the British Psychological Society, Manchester, UK

Virve Vihman, Elena Lieven, & Anna Theakston. (2015). Something from nothing: What do children learn from omitted arguments in the input? Paper presented at the Child Language Symposium, Warwick, UK

Michelle Davis, Thea Cameron-Faulkner,& Anna Theakston (2015). Exploring patterns in tag question production: A multiple correspondence analysis of form and function. Paper presented at the Child Language Symposium, Warwick, UK

Akiko Okuno, Thea Cameron-Faulkner, & Anna Theakston (2015). How does the world look to you? Paper presented at the Child Language Symposium, Warwick,UK

Vihman, V., Lieven, E., & Theakston, A. (2015). Practice with pronouns: acquisition of differential object case-marking. Poster presented at Boston University Conference on Language Development, Boston, USA.

Kliesch, C., Reid, V. M., Theakston, A., Parise, E. (2016). Infants’ understanding of teleological
 actions after ostensive communication. (1) Budapest Summer School on Memory and Metarepresentation, Budapest, HU

Kliesch, C., Reid, V. M., Theakston, A., Parise, E. (2016). Infants’ understanding of teleological
 actions after ostensive communication. Lancaster Conference on Child Development, Lancaster, UK

Boundy, L., Cameron-Faulkner, T. and Theakston, A. (2018). Intention or Attention Before Pointing: Do Infants’ Early Holdout Gestures Reflect Evidence of a Declarative Motive? Infancy. DOI: 10.1111/infa.12267

MacDonald, R., Brandt, S., Theakston, A., Lieven, E. & Serratrice, L. (2018). Animacy and children's processing of subject and object relative clauses. Poster presented at the Child Language Symposium, Reading, UK

Brandt, S., Hargreaves, S. & Theakston, A. (2018). How does knowledge of true and false beliefs influence choice of sentence structure? Poster presented at the Child Language Symposium, Reading, UK

de Ruiter, L., Lieven, E., Brandt, S., Hargreaves, S., & Theakston, A. (2018). Improving 5-year-olds' comprehension of adverbial sentences: a classroom based training study. Poster presented at the Child Language Symposium, Reading, UK

Brandt, S., Hargreaves, S. & Theakston, A. (2018). Putting complement clauses and false belief into context. Poster presented at the X. Dubrovnik Conference on Cognitive Science (DuCog 2018)

de Ruiter, L., Theakston, A., Lieven, E., & Brandt, S. (2017). “You say ‘before’, I say ‘bevor”’ Testing the relative influence of iconicity, ambiguity, and language-specific frequencies on the processing of complex sentences in English and German. Paper presented at the Many Paths to Language workshop, October 6-8, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

de Ruiter, L., Lieven, E., Brandt S. & Theakston, A. (2017). The role of information structure in children’s comprehension of complex sentences –testing two hypotheses. Paper presented at The 23rd Architectures and Mechanisms of Language Processing Conference (AMLaP), September 7-9, Lancaster, UK

de Ruiter, L., Theakston, A., Brandt, S. & Lieven, E. (2017). The relationship between parental input and children’s spontaneous use of adverbial clauses containing after, before, because, and if. Paper presented at the 14th International Congress for the Study of Child Language (IASCL), July 17-21, Lyon, France.

De Ruiter, L., Theakston, A., Brandt, S. & Lieven, E. (2017). Effects of clause order and connective type on children’s and adults’ processing of complex sentences. Poster presented at the 30th Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing (CUNY 2017) March 30–April 1, Cambridge, MA, USA

de Ruiter, L., Brandt, S., Lieven, E. & Theakston, A. (2017). The role of information structure in children’s comprehension of complex sentences – testing two hypotheses. Paper presented at the 3rd LuCiD Language and Communicative Development Conference, July 7th, Lancaster, UK

de Ruiter, L., Theakston, A., Brandt, S. & Lieven, E. (2016). “You’ve always got to wash your hands before you eat food” - The role of the input in children’s acquisition of adverbial clauses in complex sentences. Paper presented at the 2nd LuCiD Language and Communicative Development conference, Manchester.

de Ruiter, L., Theakston, A., Brandt, S. & Lieven, E. (2016). Additional complexity in complex sentences in child-directed speech. In T. Tenbrink (Ed.) Proceedings of the UK Cognitive Linguistics Conference, p.29.

de Ruiter, L., Theakston, A., Brandt, S. & Lieven, E. (2016). Temporal, causal and conditional sentences in English child-directed speech. Paper presented at “Sentence complexity at the boundary of grammatical theory and processing: A special challenge for language acquisition” Workshop (AG4) at the 38th Annual Conference of the German Linguistics Society (DGfS), Konstanz

Buckle, L., Lieven, E. and Theakston, A. (2017). The Effects of Animacy and Syntax on Priming: A Developmental Study. Front. Psychol., 20 December 2017. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02246

Law, J., Charlton, J., Dockrell, J., Gascoigne, M., McKean, C. and Theakston, A. (2017). Early Language Development: Needs, provision, and intervention for preschool children from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. A report for the Education Endowment Fund and Public Health England.

de Ruiter, L., Theakston, A., Brandt, S., Lieven, E. (2017). Iconicity affects children’s comprehension of complex sentences: the role of semantics, clause order, input and individual differences. Cognition, 143, 61-76.

Engelmann, F., Granlund, S., Kolak, J., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A. & Lieven, E. (2017). Cross-linguistic acquisition of complex verb inflection in a neural network model. (1) Paper presented at The 3rd LuCiD Language and Communicative Development Conference, Lancaster, UK.

Granlund, S., Kolak, J., Szreder, M., Engelmann, F., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A. & Lieven, E. (2017). Predicting errors in children’s production of verb morphology: evidence from person/number marking in Finnish and Polish. (1) Paper presented at The 3rd LuCiD Language and Communicative Development Conference, Lancaster, UK.

Engelmann, F., Kolak, J., Granlund, S., Szreder, M., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A. & Lieven, E. (2017). The acquisition of verb inflection in a connectionist model. Paper presented at the 14th Congress of the International Association for the Study of Child Language (IASCL), Lyon, France.

Granlund, S., Kolak, J., Szreder, M., Engelmann, F., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A. & Lieven, E. (2017). Predicting errors in children’s production of verb morphology: evidence from person/number marking in Finnish and Polish. Paper presented at the 14th Congress of the International Association for the Study of Child Language (IASCL), Lyon, France.

Engelmann, F., Kolak, J., Granlund, S., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A. & Lieven, E. (2017). The acquisition of complex verb morphology in Finnish and Polish: model and experiment. In Proceedings of the 39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, London, UK.

Engelmann, F., Granlund, S., Kolak, J., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A. & Lieven, E (2017). Cross-linguistic acquisition of complex verb inflection in a connectionist model. Poster presented at Architectures and Mechanisms of Language Processing (AMLaP), Lancaster, UK.

Granlund, S., Kolak, J., Vihman, V., Engelmann, F., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A. & Lieven, E. (2017). Acquisition of noun case marking in morphologically complex languages. Poster presented at Architectures and Mechanisms of Language Processing (AMLaP), Lancaster, UK.

Engelmann, F., Kolak, J., Granlund, S., Szreder, M., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A. & Lieven, E. (2017). The acquisition of Polish and Finnish verb inflection in a connectionist model. Paper presented at the 50th Annual Meeting of Societas Linguistica Europaea (SLE), Zurich, Switzerland.

Kolak, J., Granlund, S., Vihman, V., Engelmann, F., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A. & Lieven, E. (2017). An experimental study on the acquisition of noun case marking in Estonian, Finnish and Polish. Paper presented at the 50th Annual Meeting of Societas Linguistica Europaea (SLE), Zurich, Switzerland.

Engelmann, F., Granlund, S., Kolak, J., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A. & Lieven, E. (2017). Cross-linguistic acquisition of complex verb inflection in a neural network model. Paper presented at the Many Paths to Language (MPaL) workshop, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Kolak, J., Granlund, S., Vihman, V., Engelmann, F., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A. & Lieven, E. (2017). An experimental study on the acquisition of nominal case marking in Estonian, Finnish and Polish. Poster presented at the Many Paths to Language (MPaL) workshop, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Theakston, A. and Lieven, E. (2017). Multiunit Sequences in First Language Acquisition. Topics in Cognitive Science. doi:10.1111/tops.12268

Theakston, A. L. (2017). Entrenchment in first language learning. In Schmid, Hans-Jörg (Ed). Entrenchment and the psychology of language learning: How we reorganize and adapt linguistic knowledge., (pp. 315-341). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association; Boston, MA, US: De Gruyter Mouton, viii, 475 pp.

Kirjavainen, M., Lieven, E. V. M. and Theakston, A. L. (2016). Can Infinitival to Omissions and Provisions Be Primed? An Experimental Investigation Into the Role of Constructional Competition in Infinitival to Omission Errors Cognitive Science. doi:10.1111/cogs.12407

Engelmann, F., Szreder, M., Kolak, J., Granlund, S., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A., & Lieven, E. (2016). Modelling the acquisition of Polish verb inflection. Paper presented at the the 2nd LuCiD Language and Communicative Development Conference, Manchester, UK.

Theakston, A. (2016). The LuCiD Research Centre: Language and Communicative Development in the Early Years. Talk presented at North West SEND and Council for Disabled Children event. Manchester, UK.

Lieven, E. and Theakston, A. (2016). What’s difficult about having conversations and telling stories? Talk presented at Stockport Early Years Improvement Team Annual Conference, Stockport, UK.

Cameron-Faulkner, T., Theakston, A., Lieven, E., Tomasello, M. (2015). The Relationship Between Infant Holdout and Gives, and Pointing Infancy, 20, 5, 576-586

Theakston, & Koymen, B. (2015). Getting ready for school. Talk given 8 November, Manchester Museum.

Theakston, A. (2015). A Formal Occasion. Nursery World Magazine, 24 August, 26-29.

Boundy, L., Cameron-Faulkner, T. & Theakston, A. (2015). Exploring early proto-declarative behaviours: A fine-grained analysis of infant's early shows and gives. Poster presented at Gesture in Language Development Workshop, Warwick, 2015.

Noble, C., Lieven, E., Iqbal, F. & Theakston, A (2015). Converging and competing cues in the acquisition of syntactic structures: the conjoined agent intransitive. Journal of Child Language. doi: 10.1017/S0305000915000288

Theakston, A., Ibbotson, P., Freudenthal, D., Lieven, E. and Tomasello, M. (2015). Productivity of Noun Slots in Verb Frames. Cognitive Science, 39 (6), 1369-1395.

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