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LIN12: Sign Language and Deaf Culture


This Working Group proposes to bring together researchers in the area of sign language, deaf studies, law, and linguistics.

Open to New People

Inactive since: 2022

  • Syracuse University
  • University of Rochester
  • Cornell University
  • Rochester Institute of Technology

Collaborative Goals

We envision four article summaries related to ASL Linguistics approximately 10-15 minutes each to be shared openly with the public. There were no websites or online media that offer an overview of advanced concepts in ASL linguistics and we formed a Sign Language Research Video Collective last year primarily to educate the public about ASL Linguistics. This series of videos will be posted on Facebook and/or Instagram connecting to the weblink that will be housed under Cornell’s Department of Linguistics.

Last year we developed translations/summaries of four articles related to ASL Linguistics which was supported by the Central New York Humanities Corridor. This proposal will continue with our work translating/summarizing four more articles.

Our tentative list of articles to be summarized/translated are:

Padden, C.A., Perlmutter, D.M. (1987). American Sign Language and the architecture of phonological theory. Nat Lang Linguist Theory 5, 335–375.

Hill, J. C. (2017). The Importance of the Sociohistorical Context in Sociolinguistics: The Case of Black ASL. Sign Language Studies, 18(1), 41–57.

Hall, M. L., Hall, W. C., & Caselli, N. K. (2019). Deaf children need language, not (just) speech. First Language, 39(4), 367-395.

Aronoff, M., Meir, I., & Sandler, W. (2005). The Paradox of Sign Language Morphology. Language, 81(2), 301–344.

Group Organizers

Brenda Schertz

Senior Lecturer in Linguistics, Cornell University

Marguerite Carillo

Senior Lecturer, Department of ASL and Interpreting Education, National Technical Institute for the Deaf, Rochester Institute of Technology

Maya Ravindranath Abtahian

Associate Professor of Linguistics, University of Rochester

Molly Diesing

Professor of Linguistics, Cornell University

Group Members

  • Sandra Wood, Assistant Professor, Linguistics, University of Southern Maine

Group Outcomes

  • After posting the videos we received positive responses asking our team to do translations of other ASL Linguistics articles. Several ASL linguists mentioned that these videos would be incorporated in their ASL Linguistics curriculum.
  • On Facebook, linguists of other signed languages responded that this would be a model project to emulate and shared videos of their efforts in describing some components of other signed languages.
  • The videos were released after the end of the Spring 2022 semester. It is not likely we will see the full impact of these videos until Fall 2022 and beyond. We look forward to developing collaborations with other ASL linguists in continuing this project with new and continued funding.
  • We expect these videos to be incorporated in the demonstration of some components of ASL linguistics in linguistics courses at Cornell University.
  • Closer to the Fall 2022 semester, we will be following up with some contacts who expressed interest, seeking other collaborations with ASL linguists who are interested in expanding this project, and to work on funding to support the continuation of this project.
  • We plan to publish and give presentations on the translation process involved with the project at conferences related to signed language linguistics and teaching of ASL and ASL Linguistics.
  • As a part of our outreach efforts, we plan to attend local Deaf communities, and present our videos to discuss how these videos may impact on how we perceive ASL as a language. Most Deaf adults do not have the exposure or opportunity to learn about their own language.