Man's ability to use language to communicate requires the ability to structure knowledge, to encode and decode linguistic signals, and relate them to context and society. This ability is normally developed in childhood (language acquisition). The estimated number of languages spoken worldwide is roughly 6,000, most of them not mutually intelligible, and many of them displaying rich dialectal variation, multiplying diversity. Progress in our understanding of language and its role in fulfilling the communicative needs of a complex, often multilingual society can only be made if we can arrive at an analysis of the factors involved and the way they interact. Results are relevant to education, language & speech technology and healthcare. Research in LOT thus focuses on the following issue: "What are the cognitive faculties that underlie the structure, acquisition and use of human language, what principles govern their interaction, and how are these insights embedded in a broader scientific and social context?".
The aim of LOT is to create a scientific community in which this research can be optimally pursued, and to educate the next generation of researchers with an open mind toward new disciplinary and interdisciplinary developments, theoretical and methodological alternatives, and possible applications. LOT stimulates new initiatives and developments in research, and provides a national forum to further communication between the participating institutes with a view to short- and long-term collaboration. LOT enhances an effective curriculum for graduate students in linguistics committed to excellence with an optimal combination of national and local educational activities. International communication is stimulated for the benefit of research and education.