||School of Language, Education, and Culture
My dissertation research will create a grammatical sketch and archives of Zaban Eshareh Irani (ZEI), the sign language used in Iran. ZEI is in critical need of empirical and usage-based research. A grammatical sketch describes a language’s phonology, morphology, lexicon, and syntax. This corpus-based/language-documentation approach results in replicable, accountable and accessible products. Very little is known about ZEI, what is available is inaccurate, prescriptive, and seeks to dramatically alter ZEI (Lotfi, Younes, et al., n.d.). This creates an environment of endangerment for ZEI as actually used by the deaf communities in Iran. ZEI is not officially recognized by the government. No empirical research is available for training interpreters, creating an accurate dictionary, providing backing for advocacy, or for continued linguistic research.
Funding is needed to support annotation and development of archives. Annotation is a type of linguistic micro-analysis that is used computationally to abstract patterns from archives for macro-analysis. Best practices require annotation be carried out by fluent researchers who conduct micro-analyses. The result is research that is more representative of the language than that derived from few participants and a single researcher’s analysis. This research will support the creation of a ZEI grammatical sketch.