Linguistics

The Department of Linguistics is heavily dependent on research for both learning and teaching because sign language linguistics is a field that has so much more to discover. The ongoing, innovative research carried out by the linguistics faculty and graduate students is contributing substantially to what is known about the structure and use of sign languages.


ASL Discourse Structure of Personal Experience Narratives

ID: 3637
Status: Ongoing
Start date: October 2018
End Date: December 2020

Description

This linguistic study examines the usage patterns of constructed dialogue as a discourse strategy in personal experience narratives in American Sign Language (ASL) and compares them to that of English within a similar discourse context. Constructed dialogue is a discourse strategy that encodes the conceptualization of the addresser and their particular viewing of dialogue, the interlocutor(s) involved, and the manner in which the interlocutors present dialogue from a previous or imagined discourse event. Linguistic research on constructed dialogue in ASL has paralleled early English research by primarily focusing on the identification, description, and classification of constructed dialogue and its types (see Metzger, 1995; Lillo- Martin, 1995; Liddell, 2003; Dudis, 2007; Thumann, 2010). This study diverges from previous research by examining how native ASL and English users pattern constructed dialogue within a personal narrative context. Additionally, this study examines the identified patterns of constructed dialogue use by ASL and English users under a cognitive linguistic framework by using the notion of construal to examine the impacts the patterns have on meaning. Finally, the patterns of usage in ASL and English will be compared to identify in what ways do ASL users differ from English users in their patterns of constructed dialogue use.

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Language Emergence, Evolution, and Acquisition

ID: 3593
Status: Ongoing
Start date: August 2018
End Date: January 2025

Description

This is an ongoing project investigating the structures that emerge in newly-formed sign languages (e.g., Nicaraguan Sign Language) across dimensions such as phonology, morphology, syntax, and discourse. Factors including social network size (number and type of interlocutors) and the bi-directional influence of cognition and language are investigated as contributing (or not) to language emergence.

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Products

Gagne, D., Senghas, A., & Coppola, M. (2017, November). Peer interaction is necessary for full conventionalization of space in an emerging language: Evidence from hearing children of Nicaraguan signers. Presented at the Boston University Conference on Language Development, Boston, MA.


Philadelphia signs

ID: 2910
Status: Ongoing
Start date: August 2015

Description

The purpose of this study is to collect interviews of native deaf Philadelphians in order to capture the Philadelphia ASL dialect for language documentation.

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Products

Fisher, J.;Tamminga, M.; Hochgesang, J.A. (2018). The historical and social context of the Philadelphia ASL Community. Sign Language Studies 18(3) 429-460. DOI: 10.1353/sls.2018.0010.

Tamminga, M. Fisher, J., & Hochgesang, J. (2019). "Weak hand variation in Philadelphia ASL: A pilot study" UPenn Working Papers in Linguistics, volume 25.2

Tamminga, M., Fisher, J., & Hochgesang, J.A. (2018, October). Weak hand variation in Philadelphia ASL: A pilot study. Presented at the 47th "New Ways of Analyzing Variation" (NWAV47). New York University. (October 18-21, 2018)


Phonotactic Constraints in ASL

ID: 3638
Status: Ongoing
Start date: December 2018
End Date: December 2019

Description

This dissertation will contribute to the literature on phonotactic constraints in American Sign Language (ASL). In spoken languages, examining phonotactic constraints often involves testing how users of a language adapt nonce words or borrowed words from other languages. When incorporated into a new language, nonce and borrowed words are often changed to reflect the phonotactic regularities of the borrowing language. To date, most of the research on phonotactics in signed languages has studied borrowed words by examining changes lexicalized fingerspelling has undergone. Examining changes undergone in borrowed words from other signed languages, as well as examining the reproduction of foreign words, should tell us more about phonotactic constraints of ASL. I propose to compare the phonological production of words borrowed into ASL to the phonological production in their signed language of origin and the reproduction of Japanese Sign Language (JSL) words by ASL users to that of the form produced by native Japanese signers. I will examine feature-level changes made to signs using narrow phonetic-level transcriptions. Assuming that ASL users rely on their phonological representation of ASL to perceive and reproduce signs, the changes undergone in the borrowed and reproduced words will reveal information about phonotactic knowledge in ASL.

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Sign Language Annotation, Archiving and Sharing (SLAASh)

ID: 2617
Status: Ongoing
Start date: September 2014
End Date: December 2019

Description

SLAASh focuses on the construction of infrastructure to support the archiving and distribution of sign language corpora, focusing upon previously collected longitudinal samples of the development of child ASL. It is also developing the ASL Signbank, an online resource to maintain ID glosses, unique identifiers for signs that enable machine-readability that also serves as a lexical database in which information is stored about each sign. ASL Signbank can be used to create a continually-updated ECV for ELAN (meaning that people who annotate ASL videos can use ASL Signbank and don't need to create their own).

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Products

Hochgesang, J.A. (2017, October 9). Making sense of real data: Considering usage-based approaches during the analysis of lemmas in ASL data. Opening conference presentation for "SIGN8 International Conference for Sign Language Users". Florianópolis, SC, Brazil, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina.

Hochgesang, J.A. (2018, April 6). Making your Early Childhood Data Accessible: Using ELAN and the ASL Signbank. Invited presentation for "Summit IX: Opening our Minds to Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in Early Childhood Inclusion". April 5-7, 2018. Washington, DC. Gallaudet University.

Hochgesang, J.A. (2018, June 22). ELAN and ASL SignBank: Making your videos accessible. Invited workshop for "Assessing a Deaf Child's ASL - Level 1". June 21-23, 2018. Washington, DC. Gallaudet University.

Hochgesang, J.A. (2018, June 26). ELAN and ASL SignBank and Your Data, Oh My! Invited workshop for "Assessing a Deaf Child's ASL - Level 2". June 25-27 2018. Washington, DC. Gallaudet University.

Hochgesang, J.A. (2019, June 19). ELAN and ASL SignBank and Your Data, Oh My! Invited workshop for "Assessing a Deaf Child's ASL - Level 2". June 17-19 2019. Washington, DC. Gallaudet University.

Hochgesang, J.A. (May, 2018). SLAAASh and the ASL Deaf Communities (or "so many gifs!"). Presentation at Involving the Language Community: The 8th Workshop on the Representation and Processing of Sign Languages. 11th International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation, LREC 2018, Miyazaki, Japan.

Hochgesang, J.A. Crasborn, O. Lillo-Martin, D. (2017) ASL Signbank. New Haven, CT: Haskins Lab, Yale University. https://aslsignbank.haskins.yale.edu/

Hochgesang, J.A., Crasborn, O., Lillo-Martin, D. (2018). Building the ASL Signbank: Lemmatization Principles for ASL In Involving the Language Community Proceedings of the 8th Workshop on the Representation and Processing of Sign Languages. Ed by E. Efthimiou, E. Fotinea, T. Hanke, J. Hochgesang, J. Kristoffersen, & J. Mesch (Eds). 69-74.

Hochgesang, J.A., O. Crasborn, D. Lillo-Martin. (May, 2018). Building the ASL Signbank: Lemmatization Principles for ASL. Poster presentation at Involving the Language Community Proceedings of the 8th Workshop on the Representation and Processing of Sign Languages. 11th International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation, LREC 2018, Miyazaki, Japan.

Julie A. Hochgesang, Onno Crasborn, and Diane Lillo-Martin. (2017-2019) ASL Signbank. New Haven, CT: Haskins Lab, Yale University. https://aslsignbank.haskins.yale.edu/


The Acquisition of ASL Morphosyntax in New Signers

ID: 3943
Status: Completed
Start date: January 2020
End Date: August 2020

Description

A growing number of deaf students are arriving at Gallaudet without signing experience, calling for a need to understand their unique language learning situation. Deaf learners like these have not been a focus of signed second language (M2L2) research. The influence of deaf people’s early visual experiences and the strength of their early language experience on their later visual linguistic structures has not been sufficiently explored. This project aims to address this by studying how deaf new signers’ acquisition of morphosyntactic structures in ASL is affected by their early language and visual experiences. The productions of two grammatical structures in ASL are explored: (1) grammaticized pointing and (2) narrative referent control. To disambiguate the contributions of first language (strong vs. weak) and sensory experiences (hearing vs. deaf), three groups are represented: hearing M2L2, deaf M2L2 with a strong English foundation, and deaf M2L2 with a weak English foundation. The five measures are: (1) a language background questionnaire; (2) the PIAT-R (reading comprehension); (3) the ASL-CT (ASL comprehension); (4) a morphosyntactic pointing sentence repetition task; and (5) a narrative retelling task. It is hypothesized that deaf people’s language-independent visuo-spatial abilities positively influence their use of pointing and other visuo-spatial structures.

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The Influence of Language on Cognitive Development

ID: 3595
Status: Ongoing
Start date: August 2018
End Date: June 2023

Description

This project investigates the impact of varying language experiences (language deprivation, emerging language environments, full language exposure) on cognitive abilities such as social cognition (Theory of Mind, Socio-cognitive responsiveness), Executive Functioning (working memory, inhibitory control), and Spatial Cognition. Participants include infants and adults in the United States, children and adults in Nicaragua, and children and adults in Peru.

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The semantics of space in Sign and Gesture

ID: 3594
Status: Ongoing
Start date: August 2018
End Date: December 2020

Description

We investigate the various ways that space can be used to indicate the quantity or size of the domain across various structures in sign (verbs, quantifiers, pronouns). This is an international investigation, pulling together data from Japanese Sign Language, American Sign Language, and Nicaraguan Sign Language. We compare and contrast the results of this use of space to those used by hearing, non-signing gesturers in each of those countries/cultures to understand the elements of spatial productions that may be universal (given general human cognition) versus those that are language - or culture - specific.

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Scholarship and creative activity

2019

Hochgesang, J. A. (2019, March). Inclusion of Deaf Linguistics and Signed Language Linguistics. Panel Presentation at Georgetown University Roundtable (GURT) 2019 – Linguistics and the Public Good, Georgetown University, DC.

Hochgesang, J. A., R. Treviño, J. Willow, & E. Shaw. (2019, March). Gallaudet University Documentation of ASL (GUDA) – Documentation IS Representation. Presentation at Georgetown University Roundtable (GURT) 2019 – Linguistics and the Public Good, Georgetown University, DC.

Hochgesang, J.A. & Guity, A. (2019, July). Ethical concerns of sign language work with the Deaf communities: One Deaf Iranian man's journey from researched to researcher. Presentation at the XVIII World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf "Sign Language Rights for All"

Hochgesang, J.A. (2018, September 24). Same Modality: Different Languages - Signed Language Documentation Projects Around the World. Presentation for "International Day of Sign Languages" Celebration by the Department of ASL and Deaf Studies, the Office of the President, and the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), September 24, 2018, Gallaudet University.

2015

Torres Méndez, C. (2015, July). Let the deaf be heard in the English class. Presented at the Studies in Applied English Linguistics Conference, Seville, Spain.