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Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre

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Matt Brown

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I began learning BSL in 2004 when I wandered into my local college looking for evening classes. I had no idea that this would change my life.

From 2009 to 2017, I worked as a Communication Support Worker and later a qualified BSL/English interpreter in schools, colleges and universities, supporting teachers and lecturers. During this time, I completed DCAL’s MSc Language Sciences (Sign Language Studies) degree. For my research project, I was introduced to the BSL Corpus and BSL Signbank. I used these amazing resources to study how fingerspelled words can change into something more like a native BSL sign, and whether these kinds of sign are used differently by different people. That’s when I caught the research bug.

I’m now back at UCL as a full time PhD student with funding from the London Arts & Humanities Partnership, investigating a particular class of pragmatic effects in BSL. I first became fascinated by pragmatics during my interpreting studies. Semantics deals with the meaning understood from individual words; syntax, the meaning that comes from grammatical structure. But pragmatics deals with context, inference, the meaning implied by alternatives not chosen, from the act of co-operation between people in conversation.

Direct contact: m.brown.13@ucl.ac.uk