The Center for Advanced Study in Theoretical Linguistics (CASTL) was created in June 2002 as a Center of Excellence (CoE) under the CoE scheme of the Research Council of Norway (RCN). CASTL is funded as a CoE for a ten-year period (2003-2012). From 2005, CASTL has been running one of UiT’s special graduate schools (forskerskoler), producing several PhD dissertations every year. For an overview of CASTL’s research and activities, you may download CASTL’s Annual Reports here.
The research at CASTL is centered around six senior researchers (Bruce Morén-Duolljá, Gillian Ramchand, Michal Starke, Peter Svenonius, Tarald Taraldsen, and Marit Westergaard). The Center also has a number of post-docs/researchers and around 15-20 PhD students. Through the Affiliate Program, CASTL people collaborate with many researchers in the Department of Language and Linguistics.
Our scientific goal is to research the nature of syntactic, morphological and phonological variation, in order to be able to determine along which grammatical parameters any two languages vary. To this end, we combine comparison of formal properties of small sets of related and unrelated languages with large-scale comparative studies and the study of language acquisition and change. This is basic research about one of the most important properties of the human mind: the language faculty. Our emphasis, therefore, is on generating new knowledge.
In addition to the CoE funding from RCN, members of the CASTL group have received a number of other grants, e.g. a YFF grant from the RCN for a cross-linguistic study of prepositions and spatial expressions (Moving Right Along), a Nordic Center of Excellence in Microcomparative Syntax (NORMS), a NordForsk grant to establish a network for Saami documentation and revitalization, a grant from the SpareBanken Fund to develop an online Lule Saami sound dictionary, and two projects funded by the Tromsø Research Foundation: the Bantu project and a CASTL-affiliated grant in language acquisition (VAMOS). This means that CASTL people are also involved in a number of subprojects.
Upon the creation of the Center, Professor Noam Chomsky of MIT sent the following congratulatory message:"That's really fabulous news. It would be hard to invent something better. Can't think of anything like it anywhere. But just think of the responsibility you all now have to the future of the field."