Skip navigation

Luca Miorelli

Luca Miorelli , Northumbria UniversityBiography

I studied Modern Literature at the University of Trento (Italy), where I graduated in March 2010. I first moved to the UK as an Erasmus student at the University of Exeter during the academic year 2007-08 and in the academic year 2011-12 I completed an MA in Language Acquisition at the University of Sheffield. In the summer of 2013, I was awarded a Northumbria University Studentship and I started my PhD a few months later.
My Research Interests include usage-based approaches to the development of syntactic competence during early childhood. More specifically, the degree of children’s syntactic productivity, the kind of linguistic representation they have and how it develops.


BA in Modern Literature (Università degli studi di Trento); 109/110.
MA in Language Acquisition (University of Sheffield); Distinction.


Title: The Acquisition of syntax in Italian children: A usage-based approach.

The Research enquires into the acquisition of syntax by Italian children from the second to the fourth year of life, using a so-called usage-based approach (UBA).

Such an approach is rooted in cognitive and constructivist accounts of language acquisition and questions nativist theories which claim that children’s linguistic knowledge is innate and therefore not inherently different from adults’.

Conversely, a UBA posits that children acquire their native tongue gradually and that their linguistic competence is less abstract than adult’s.

Research on the acquisition of English-speaking children has brought evidence that language acquisition is a piecemeal and input-dependent process and that initial linguistic competence is concretely bound around lexically-based schematic constructions.

However, such a line of research has mostly studied the development of English and more cross-linguistic research is needed in order to establish whether a UBA has cross-linguistic validity.

My project aims to fill this gap and uses a UBA to the acquisition of Italian L1. In order to do so, both naturalist and experimental methods are used. In the former case, the role and the development of schematic constructions in early grammar are investigated using corpus analysis of a longitudinal study on two and three year old children. In the latter, it seeks experimental insight into grammatical representation by testing children’s productivity with nonce material.


Dr Ewa Dabrowska (primary)
Dr James Street (secondary)

Contact details

Faculty of Arts, Design & Social Sciences
Northumbria University
The Glenamara Centre
Lipman Building, room 127
Newcastle upon Tyne


a sign in front of a crowd

Northumbria Open Days

Open Days are a great way for you to get a feel of the University, the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and the course(s) you are interested in.

a person sitting at a table using a laptop
NU World Virtual Tours

Virtual Tour

Get an insight into life at Northumbria at the click of a button! Come and explore our videos and 360 panoramas to immerse yourself in our campuses and get a feel for what it is like studying here using our interactive virtual tour.

Latest News and Features

Northumbria student Saffron Sinclair being presented her award by Mark Dale, Principle Consultant at Nigel Wright Recruitment.
Henry Kippin
Cally Taylor
Eva Szewczyk grad and career success v2 180624   ES
a black and white x-ray image of painting of the baby Jesus in a crib
More news

Back to top