PEN Distinguished Lecture Series - Dr. Carol Padden - 3/12/15
From firstname.lastname@example.org on February 25th, 2019
Dr. Carol Padden, Dean of the Division of Social Sciences at University of California, San Diego, will come to Gallaudet to discuss her research on new sign languages. This talk will be from 4-5:30 pm on Thursday, March 12 in the Library, Room B111.
Abstract: Of the new and young sign languages from around the world have been reported in the research literature, they share two key characteristics: they are very young, having come into being within 1 to 3 generations of users, and they are very small, used by as few as a dozen signers to several thousand. My research group studies several sign languages, ranging from new to established, or those that have records of use dating from 200 or more years ago and having primary users in the hundreds of thousands. From our work on sign languages used "in the wild" in villages and urban areas around the world, and from iterated learning experiments with non-signers in the laboratory, we aim to understand how linguistic form emerges from a basic and fundamental capacity for communication. In this talk, I focus on the emergence of lexical forms and categories in new sign languages. Using naming experiments with groups of non-signers and signers, we show that a consistent distinction between names and actions emerges quickly in a new sign language, at least by the second generation of users. We also show that signers of new sign languages make distinctions in sign type across semantic categories which becomes further amplified and differentiated in established sign languages. We argue that these lexical distinctions are both cognitive and communicative in nature: they consist of categories found in spoken and sign languages, and they reflect the ways that humans communicate to each other about their interactions with the world.
Dr. Carol Padden is Professor of Communication and Dean, Division of Social Sciences at University of California, San Diego. With her research group, she studies how sign languages emerge in small communities. Her work spans studies of gesture in non-signers and signers, new sign languages and established, national sign languages. Her recent publications address iconicity in language, and the co-emergence of meaning and structure in human languages.