Research Interests:

My research focuses on language change and grammaticalization in sign languages. Specifically, I am interested in the recent emergence of the copular function of an ASL sign, SELF and its variant, SELF-ONE, shown below. I have conducted a corpus study encompassing 200 years of ASL and one of its language predecessors, Langue de Signes Française (French Sign Language, LSF), which showed a grammaticalization process termed 'the copular cycle' (Sampson & Mayberry 2022). In this cycle, the function of a lexical item evolves from a demonstrative to a personal pronoun, and finally, to a copula. This parallels similar copula cycles seen in spoken languages including Hebrew, Mandarin, Turkish, and Finnish (Katz 1996). The similarities of the same grammaticalization pathway between signed and spoken languages ultimately show that universal cognitive underpinnings are responsible for grammaticalization processes despite differences in modality.

Currently, I am conducting Likert scale experiments to further investigate and describe the intricate semantic/syntactic interfaces of these signs.