My research and teaching interests embrace a wide range of topics related to sign language. These include the linguistics of British Sign Language (BSL) and other sign languages, the history and sociolinguistics of BSL and the Deaf community, the development of BSL in young children, sign language and the brain, and developmental and acquired sign language impairments. I established and now direct the Deafness, Cognition and Language Research Centre, with core funding of 9,500,000 from the ESRC over ten years, from 2006-2015. This is the largest research centre in this field in Europe, with 3 co-directors, and over 30 staff and research students, working in several main research themes: Sign Language documentation and Sign Language change; Foundations of Communication, Hemispheric organisation of language processing; Iconicity as a link between language and cognition; Cognitive Control: executive functions; the nature of internal representations for sign and gesture.
Meet the researcher
Bencie’s work focuses on sign languages in both Deaf and hearing communities. What is the relationship between the modality of language (i.e. spoken vs. signed) and how language functions? Is all language the same in the brain or are spoken and signed languages represented differently? Are signed and spoken language learned the same? By exploring these questions, what can we learn about the human faculty of language in general?