Nina Feygl Semushina co-organizes a workshop on Sign Language studies at V-NYI

Graduate student Nina Feygl Semushina organized a virtual workshop on “Sign Language Studies” on July 21-30, together with Masha Esipova (Princeton University), Philippe Schlenker (NYU/CNRS), and Valeria Vinogradova (University of East Anglia). The workshop highlighted different areas of sign language linguistics, such as iconicity, variation, language acquisition, and sign & gesture. On July 28, Nina gave a presentation on “Acquisition of number and language: does the order matter? Age of first language acquisition effects on automatic number processing.
The workshop was dedicated to the memory of Tatiana Davidenko, a pioneering Deaf teacher and researcher of Russian Sign Language, who passed away in June 2020.
The workshop was part of the Virtual Summer Institute of Linguistics, Cognition, and Culture (V-NYI), organized by Stony Brook University (NY) and Herzen State Pedagogical University (St. Petersburg, Russia). This year, V-NYI Summer Institute connected 301 students & 55 faculty members from 43 countries.

Yaqian Huang just publised a paper on JASA

Graduate student Yaqian Huang just published a paper entitled “Different attributes of creaky voice distinctly affect Mandarin tonal perception” in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 147(3): 1441-1458. The abstract is below. Congratulations, Yaqian!

Abstract. Previous work has shown mixed findings concerning the role of voice quality cues in Mandarin tones, with some studies showing that creak improves identification. This study tests the linguistic importance of acoustic properties of creak for Mandarin tone perception. Mandarin speakers identified tones with four resynthesized creak manipulations: low spectral tilt, irregular F0, period doubling, and extra-low F0. Two experiments with three conditions were conducted. In Experiment 1, the manipulations were confined to a portion of the stimuli’s duration; in Experiment 2 the creak manipulations were modified and lengthened throughout the stimuli, and in a second condition, noise was incorporated to weaken F0 cues. Listeners remained most sensitive to extra-low F0, which affected identification of the four tones differently: it improved the identification accuracy of Tone 3 and hindered that of Tones 1 and 4. Irregular F0 consistently hindered T1 identification. The effects of irregular F0, period doubling, and low spectral tilt emerged in Experiment 2, where F0 cues were less robust and creak cues were stronger. Thus, low F0 is the most prominent cue used in Mandarin tone identification, but other voice quality cues become more salient to listeners when the F0 cues are less retrievable.

Qi Cheng awarded NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant

Graduate student Qi Cheng, a Ph.D candidate in our department and a member of Rachel Mayberry Lab for Multimodal Language Development, was recently awarded a National Science Foundation Linguistics Program – Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (#1917922) for her dissertation work. Her research examines the biological foundations of human language with a focus on early language experience, linking observations from language learning, processing, and the brain network. Supported by the grant, she is currently conducting two psycholinguistic experiments to explore sentence processing strategies used by deaf late signers who suffered from early language deprivation. She presented the preliminary findings at CUNY Conference on Sentence Processing and Theoretical Issues in Signed Language Research (TISLR). She recently published a paper on the neural language pathways of deaf signers with and without early language on Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Cheng, Q., & Mayberry, R. ‘Word order or world knowledge? Effects of early language deprivation on simple sentence comprehension.’ Oral presentation at the 13th conference of Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research, Hamburg, Germany, September 2019.

Cheng, Q., Roth, A., Halgren, E., & Mayberry, R. I. ‘Effects of early language deprivation on brain connectivity: Language pathways in deaf native and late first-language learners of American Sign Language.’ Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 13, 320. 2019

Nina Semushina awarded NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant

Graduate student Nina Semushina, a PhD candidate in our department and a member of Rachel Mayberry Lab for Multimodal Language Development, was recently awarded a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (Ling-DDRI) for the project “The development of numerical cognition and linguistic number use: Insights from sign languages”. The goal of the project is to study the effects of language deprivation on the acquisition of numeracy and linguistic number use in American sign language, taking into account some modality-specific properties of numeral systems and plural morphology in sign languages.

Tory Sampson is awarded best student presentation at TISLR13

Our third year graduate student Tory Sampson was awarded the best student stage presentation at the 13th triennial Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research (TISLR). Her presentation focused on the copular cycle in American Sign Language (ASL) with the sign, labeled as ‘SELF’. In this presentation, Tory presented three stages in the evolution of SELF – as a demonstrative pronoun in 1850’s French Sign Language (LSF – a predecessor of ASL), as a personal pronoun in 1910’s ASL, and finally as a copula in modern ASL. She also presented the ambiguous syntactic contexts that provided for the reinterpretation and subsequent grammaticalization of SELF. A video of her presentation can be found here.