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Dr Hunter Hatfield

MA (Mississippi) PhD (Hawai'i at Mānoa)

Email hatfield with hat
Phone +64 3 479 9087
Office 1N10
1st Floor
Arts Building
Albany Street

Mail Department of English and Linguistics
University of Otago
PO Box 56
Dunedin 9054
New Zealand


LING 111 Language and its Structure
LING 240 Language, Brain and Being Human
LING 318 Child Language
LING 342 Laboratory Phonology
LING 415 Psycholinguistics (not offered 2018)
LING 423 Special Topic: Language Processing

Hunter is also the creator of the University for Your Life programme.

Research Interests

Hunter is fascinated by the patterns underlying facts — facts of language and beyond. His work is centred within psycholinguistics in that he usually asks questions about how the mind handles language and answers those questions quantitatively and/or experimentally.  He loves a good data set and a new method of exploring it!  Topics within which he works include syntactic processing, speech perception and production, and experimental pragmatics.  Hunter is convinced that any “ultimate” understanding of language must be cognitive, formal, and social, all three, and explores how those areas can be unified.  He also thinks as often as he can about what university is for, how students learn, and what part linguistics can play in that.

Current Projects

Work extends across several areas including:

  • Identifying the relationships between writing, student background, psychometric abilities, and academic skills that contribute to having a successful time at university.
  • Matching students to experiences that meet their skill needs and goals in life.
  • Maintaining and demonstrating social relationships through language, often with co-author Dr. Jeewon Hahn of Pukyong National University, South Korea.
  • Adaptation to novel speech patterns over time. This could cover syntax, phonology, pragmatics, or multimodal interaction.
  • Studying how language processing over time becomes stable language structures.
  • Using category theory, the subfield of mathematics, to describe linguistics, particularly phonological patterns.

Postgraduate Supervision

Hunter is keen to work with students with projects that reinforce the direction of the lab.  Anything that looks at language over time would be apt.  The timescale might be milliseconds, such as for lexical recognition, or decades such as for grammaticalisation or language emergence.  In fact, it is processes which look similar over different timescales that are the most fascinating.  Hunter would be particularly keen to work with students with backgrounds that complement his, such as economics (matching algorithms), education (the nature of university), and mathematics (category theory, graph theory, more).  If a student would like to jump directly into one of the current projects, please feel free to contact him to see where the research is.

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Cop, M., & Hatfield, H. (2017). An athletes [sic] performance: Can a possessive apostrophe predict success? English Today, 33(3), 39-45. doi: 10.1017/s026607841600064x

Hatfield, H. & Cop, M. (2017, March). Exploring the relationship between high school background, writing skills, and first-year marks at university. Department of English and Linguistics, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. [Department Seminar].

Hatfield, H. (2016). Self-guided reading: Touch-based measures of syntactic processing. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 45(1), 121-141. doi: 10.1007/s10936-014-9334-2

Hatfield, H., & Artos, T. (2016). The locus of processing for object relative clauses and the impact of methodology. Language, Cognition & Neuroscience, 31(2), 190-195. doi: 10.1080/23273798.2015.1095936

Cop, M., & Hatfield, H. (2016). Which grammatical errors do first-year university students make and do those errors matter? A focusing inquiry. New Zealand Journal of Teachers' Work, 31(1), 22-38.

More publications...