In general, my research addresses the theme, what makes the human mind ready for language.
We know there are thousands of languages around the world with many notable differences between them; yet, there are significant similarities among the world’s languages known as universals. These universals are a fascinating component of linguistic research.
Most of what is known about the universals of language come from studying spoken languages. However, it is very important to consider sign languages as well, in order to have a complete picture of the true universal properties of language. In some cases, sign languages show the effects of proposed linguistic universals; but there are also differences which must be taken seriously. These differences may be due to the modality of linguistic expression.
My research often addresses these major questions by investigating the timecourse of language development by young children. Children will acquire whatever language for which they receive input. By comparing the acquisition of different languages, we can discover more about how the human mind is prepared for language.
Sign Linguistics and Language Acquisition Lab site
My Professional Background
- I studied Linguistics and American Sign Language as an undergraduate at California State University, Northridge (CSUN).
- I went to the University of California at San Diego to study Linguistics and earned a Ph.D. in 1986.
- My dissertation was entitled, “Parameter Setting: Evidence from Use, Acquisition, and Breakdown in American Sign Language”
- My major advisor was Edward S. Klima
- While I was a student at UCSD I worked as an RA at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, in Ursula Bellugi’s Laboratory for Cognitive Neuroscience.
- I was Head of the Department from 1995 – 2007.
- In 2009, I was named a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor.