WhenApril 21, 2017 03:00 PM - 04:30 PM
WhereHaskell Hall, Room 315
Contact InformationDepartment of Linguistics
DescriptionFields and Fieldability in a Protactile World: social and interactional foundations of language emergence

Terra Edwards (Gallaudet University)

This presentation analyzes key social and interactional mechanisms driving a grammatical divergence between visual American Sign Language (ASL) and protactile American Sign Language (PTASL). This divergence was triggered by the protactile social movement which originated in the Seattle DeafBlind community in 2007 and since then has been spreading across the country. Protactile leaders advance the radical claim that all human activity can be realized without the use of vision or hearing. As this movement has taken root in practices and institutions, DeafBlind people who were suffering from social isolation have found themselves embedded in novel patterns of interaction, discourse, and practice. As they find new ways to talk within and about this world, the internal structure of their language is recalibrated to it. This process is leading to the emergence of new deictic and phonological systems in PTASL. Drawing on more than 10 years of linguistic and anthropological research and a recent pilot study conducted in collaboration with Dr. Diane Brentari, I offer a provisional sketch of these novel grammatical systems, as well as discussing the utility of the field concept in accounting for their emergence. In doing so, I aim to shed new light on the social and interactional foundations of language emergence.

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CategoriesConferences/Lectures, Discussions, Meetings, Workshops
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