1. Sign Language Documentation and Change (Coordinator: Woll)
Research projects in this strand will take advantage of technological advances for better documentation, editing and archiving and also use data from the BSL Corpus Project to create an online dictionary (lexical database) and a basic reference grammar of phonology and morphosyntax for BSL. Language choices reflect changing identities and experiences; and these in turn are reflected in long-term changes in language. BSL is undergoing rapid change as the first generation of young deaf people with early diagnosis, a higher proportion of cochlear implants, and extended experience of mainstream schooling and higher education reach adulthood. To document language change we will collect linguistic data from signers with varying fluency in BSL and English through semi-structured interview and structured linguistic tasks. These data will be used to identify the factors promoting language change and the directions of change. A second study will explore BSL in contexts of language loss, with emphasis on deaf children before and after cochlear implantation. This study will use longitudinal case studies which will cover such topics as which parts of the BSL lexicon and grammar are maintained in the face of reduced or absent input, and whether BSL loss is counter-balanced by English development or whether it proceeds independently.
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