Research

Research Questions & Interests:

1. What does language change in sign languages look like? Language change in sign languages should be similar to those in spoken languages (Pfau & Steinbach, 2006). In American Sign Language (ASL), I study the copular cycle, a process in which a demonstrative evolves into a pronoun, which then evolves into a copula (e.g. the English is, were). This copula can then become cliticized and cease to exist, resulting in a zero copula. The cycle then may repeat itself. This effectively shows a series of grammaticalization processes in sign languages, thus confirming the hypothesis that sign languages and spoken languages undergo similar grammaticalization processes. This also suggests at cognitive underpinnings of grammaticalization.

2. Is there grammaticalization in sign languages? Yes. There is grammaticalization in sign languages, which is explored in depth in Pfau & Steinbach's (2006) paper. I explore the question of cyclical grammaticalization with the sign SELF in ASL. One question I ponder is whether the age of a language impacts the rate and number of different grammaticalization processes in that language.

3. What are the functions of pointing in sign language? Points have been widely discussed in sign language literature. Their functions involve pronominal reference, locatives, demonstratives, and more. Analyzing the functions of pointing in child language acquisition will help us better distinguish between functions and possibly reconstruct the grammaticalization of such indexical pointing.

4. What are some of the linguistic profiles in deaf children with developmental disorders (I.e., Language Deprivation Syndrome [LDS], Autism Spectrum Disorder [ASD], Developmental Language Disorder [DLD])? Boudreault & Mayberry (2006) reports the linguistic differences in individuals who have not been exposed to an accessible (signed) language in their youth to individuals who have been. Neurolinguistic evidence has shown that language deprivation results in significant deficits in language and cognitive skills. Undergoing studies have shown that deaf children with ASD produce reversed palm orientations along with language impairments that are co-morbid with ASD (Shield & Meier, 2012, 2018). There are no studies to date with deaf children with DLD.