Alistair Knott

Linguist and cognitive scientist

Alistair Knott is a linguist and cognitive scientist working at Otago University in New Zealand. He grew up in Brussels, attending the European School, a multilingual institution whose Babel-like environment sparked a lifelong interest in language. Ali studied psychology and philosophy at Oxford University, and then did postgraduate and postdoctoral work inĀ  computational linguistics at the Artificial Intelligence department at the University of Edinburgh. He took up a lectureship in the Computer Science Department at Otago in 1999, where he is now an associate professor.

Ali’s current research interest is in how language is implemented in the brain – in particular, in how language interfaces with the brain’s perceptual and motor systems, to allow us to talk about the world we experience. He pursues this question by building computational models of language and its links to the visual and motor systems. A book presenting this research, ‘Sensorimotor Cognition and Natural Language Syntax’, was published by MIT Press last year.