Dr Valentina Brunetto

Dr Valentina Brunetto


I earned my MA at the University of Siena in 2009, followed by a PhD at the University of Leeds in 2012 and a short post-doc at the Leeds Humanities Research Institute in 2013. I investigated Italian children's production and comprehension of reflexive and accusative clitics in different syntactic constructions. In 2013-14 I worked on a project on the acquisition of near-reflexivity (with Tom Roeper) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, funded by the Fondazione Marica De Vincenzi. I taught Language Acquisition at the University of Manchester before coming back to Leeds in 2017.


  • Programme Manager MA Linguistics; MA Linguistics & English Language Teaching

Research interests

My primary research interests are in experimental syntax, generative first language acquisition and language processing. I study the interaction between syntactic structures and interpretation through several lenses: child language acquisition, adult online processing, comparative syntax. My research focuses on the following themes:

  • The syntax and semantics of strong, weak and clitic pronouns and their development in the preschool years.  
  • The acquisition of anaphora and the interaction between locality of syntactic computations and strategies of anaphora resolution in both language development and online processing.
  • The acquisition of perceptual reports and causative constructions in Romance languages (with a particular focus on Italian).
  • The syntax of intensionality. Currently, I am investigating the interaction between children’s representation of attitude domains and their interpretation of perspectival elements such as anaphors, evaluative adjectives, and anti-attitudinal expressions.
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD in Linguistics, University of Leeds
  • MA in Linguistics, University of Siena
  • BA in Journalism, University of Palermo

Professional memberships

  • Member of LAGB

Student education

I teach modules at undergraduate and MA level on introductory and advanced generative syntax, experimental syntax, language acquisition and processing, and supervise BA and MA dissertations in these areas. I am programme leader for the MA Linguistics and MA Linguistics & ELT.

If you are interested in postgraduate study, please email me (V.Brunetto@leeds.ac.uk).

Research groups and institutes

  • Formal Linguistics
  • Language acquisition
  • Language processing
  • Language pedagogy
  • Language at Leeds
  • Leeds Child Development Unit
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>