Ryan Lepic, PhD

Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Gallaudet University

I am a linguist interested in how languages change as a result of how they are used.

Our utterances are highly formulaic and highly creative at the same time. We routinely stretch and re-purpose familiar words and phrases to make something new. My research examines the organization and extension of patterns in spoken languages (mostly English) and in sign languages (mostly ASL). I'm also interested in the science of teaching and learning, as it relates to teaching linguistics.

Click this link to see a list of my publications.


April 2024

Looking forward to upcoming conferences this calendar year: CLANA in June, SLE in August, and HDLS in November. This coming Fall, I'll be teaching Structure of English and Corpus Linguistics.

January 2024

This spring I'm teaching Syntax and Discourse, Languages of the World, and Cognitive Linguistics 2 at Gallaudet!

September 2023

We're back in school at Gallaudet! This fall I'm teaching Cognitive Linguistics 3 and Corpus Linguistics. I just published a new paper on identifying compounds in ASL.

Two representative publications

Lepic, Ryan. (2021). From letters to families: Initialized signs in American Sign Language. In H. Boas and S. Höder (Eds.), Constructions in Contact 2: Language Change, Multilingual Practices, and Additional Language Acquisition (pp. 268-305). Benjamins. https://doi.org/10.1075/cal.30.09lep -- Download PDF!

This study analyzes a database of ASL initialized signs, which are formed with handshapes corresponding to English letters. Initialized signs are shown to forge 'kind-of' and 'whole-part' relationships with existing ASL signs. Initialized signs are analyzed in terms of constructional schemas, capturing properties that are shared among ASL signs and explaining productive instances of initialization (and de-initialization).

Lepic, Ryan. (2019). A usage-based alternative to "lexicalization" in sign language linguistics. Glossa 4(1), 23. http://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.840 -- Open Access!

This paper appeals to the cognitive processes of chunking, entrenchment, and routinization to explore a usage-based alternative to the structuralist notion of lexicalization, as it has traditionally been used in sign language linguistics. This exploration shows that chunking, entrenchment, and routinization are useful for re-contextualizing three “lexicalization” phenomena sign language linguistics: multiword expressions, fingerspelled words, and morphologically complex signs.