Sign Language Typology

Data collected on descriptions of motion and location events in 10 sign languages from 3 sign language families were investigated in order to investigate the grammatical similarities and differences among these systems in sign languages and their relation to similar systems in spoken languages. Currently we are interested in taking this work further in order to determine typological differences among sign languages. Supported in part by NSF BCS 1227908





Language Emergence


In this work the diachronic and evolutionary processes of a phonological system are compared with those processes that occur during the acquisition of such a system.

Comparative analyses of descriptions of motion and location events in three populations are being conducted: (1) native signers of Italian Sign Language and American Sign Language, both adults and children; (2) individuals who are isolated from language learning and who invent their own communicative gesture system (homesigners), both adults and children, and (3) hearing people as they gesture, both adults and children. Supported in part by NSF BCS 1205198



Gestural behaviors of the body and hands are used for prosodic purposes in both signed and spoken languages. In conducting this research we ask: Are there universal properties of gestural prosody used by both signed and spoken languages?; How are gestures used differently in the prosodic structure of spoken vs. signed languages?; What types of “language contact” phenomena in signed and spoken language communities of a single country can be found in gestural prosody? This work, as it pertains to the prosody of fingerspelling in ASL is supported by NSF IIS-1409886.