The Centro de Linguística of Universidade Nova de Lisboa (CLUNL) was founded in 2000, in the sequence of a restructuring of the Centro de Estudos Comparados de Línguas e Literaturas Modernas (CEC). CEC, founded in 1979 and financed by the Instituto Nacional de Investigação Científica (INIC), integrated the Núcleo de Estudos de Linguística Contrastiva (NELC), whose members advocated the existence, in FCSH, of a research program in Linguistics.
At the Universidade Nova, the planning of the early research work in linguistics began in 1975, in the area of Línguas e Literaturas Modernas (Modern Languages and Literatures), thanks to the interest of Professors Maria de Lourdes Belchior and Maria Emília Marques. The theoretical approaches of the team members (comprising the domains of Sociology, Computer Sciences, Sociolinguistics, Psycholinguistics, and Language Teaching, within a contrastive and interdisciplinary approach) were presented at the Primeiro Encontro Nacional para a Investigação e Ensino do Português, in 1976.
In 1979, NELC published, in the first issue of Letras Soltas, a number of articles integrating some of the domains that would later be developed in CLUNL: Lexicology, Text Theory, Theoretical Issues and Pedagogical Praxis, branching into Sociology of Education and Bilinguism. The second issue of Letras Soltas was edited by Professor Maria Henriqueta Costa Campos, who pioneered publishing in the domains of enunciative semantics and relational grammar.
Since its creation, in 2000, the work developed at CLUNL has made an important contribution to linguistic studies in Portugal in the areas of Acquisition (L1 and L2), Discourse Analysis, Text Theory, Lexicography and Terminology, Syntax, Morphology and Historical Linguistics. CLUNL's present research is based on different conceptual and theoretical models. This characteristic is a reflection of the work developed in the Unit throughout the years and it is also what gives the Unit its identity.
Between the years 2000 and 2006, CLUNL was directed by Teresa Lino. Maria de Lourdes Crispim was director between 2006 and 2010, together with Maria Lobo, Fernanda Menéndez and Maria do Céu Caetano.
Previous directory boards have established CLUNL as a competitive and relevant Research Unit, which is attractive to both national and foreign young researchers.