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Sign Language Typology - The Cross-linguistic Study of Sign Languages

Date: 16 January 2007 Time: 4.00 pm

Professor Ulrike Zeshan(International Centre for Sign Languages and Deaf Studies, University of Central Lancashire)

Professor Zeshan will be giving a talk entitled:

Sign Language Typology - The Cross-linguistic Study of Sign Languages


This lecture introduces a new sub-discipline in linguistics, which draws upon theoretical backgrounds and methodologies from both sign language research and linguistic typology. Sign language typology is concerned with the systematic comparative study of sign languages, and as such has only just become a viable field of study. As information about grammatical structures is increasingly becoming available for a larger range of sign languages, we can, for the first time, undertake cross-linguistic investigation of structural target domains across a diverse sample of sign languages, with often surprising results.

In this lecture, I summarise some results from projects in sign language typology in recent years, covering the domains of interrogative, negative and possessive constructions across more than 30 sign languages from all over the world. The patterns of variation that we find compare with the findings of spoken language typology in interesting ways. I also focus in particular on sign languages found in village communities with a high incidence of hereditary deafness. Research results are illustrated with video examples from various sign languages.

The systematic comparison of a wide variety of sign language data allow us to make empirically substantiated inductive generalisations about what it means to speak of sign languages as a linguistic type. The approach also serves to address the question of linguistic universals in human language in a more informed way, covering the whole range of diversity in both signed and spoken languages.

Tuesday, 16 January 20074.00pmVenue to be confirmed shortly

All welcome!


Who can attend:


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Linguistics and English Language


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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