Diane Brentari

Faculty Photo
Mary K. Werkman Professor, Department of Linguistics; Co-Director, Center for Gesture, Sign, and Language
Rosenwald 205D
Office Hours: By Appointment
(773) 702-5725
Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1990
Teaching at UChicago since 2011
Research Interests: Sign Languages, Phonology, Morphology, Language Variation, Typology

Dr. Diane Brentari's broad interests address issues in sign language grammars, particularly problems at the intersection of morphology, phonology, and prosody. Her work has primarily focused on sign language phonology as a way to understand the effects of communication mode (or modality) on language, as well as the flexibility of the human language capacity in constructing spoken and signed languages.

Her current research involves language variation among sign languages, and how the mental lexicon emerges in historical time, which includes the relationship between gesture, homesign systems, and well-established sign languages. Dr. Brentari is one of three Directors of the Center for Gesture, Sign and Language and is the Director of the Sign Language Linguistics Lab.

Recent Publications

Books:

  • Brentari, D. 2019. Sign Language Phonology. Cambridge University Press.
  • Brentari, D., and J. Lee (Eds.) 2018. Shaping Phonology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Brentari, D. (Ed.) 2010. Sign Languages: A Cambridge Language Survey. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Brentari, D. 1998. A Prosodic Model of Sign Language Phonology. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Selected Articles/Book Chapters:

  • Brentari, D., J Hill, and B. Amador. 2018. "Variation in Phrasal Rhythm in Sign Languages: Introducing “Rhythm Ratio”." Sign Language & Linguistics, 21(1), 41-76.
  • Brentari, D., J. Falk, A. Giannakiou, A. Herrmann, E. Volk, and M. Steinbach. 2018. "Production and Comprehension of Prosodic Markers in Sign Language Imperatives." Frontiers in Psychology: Language Sciences (Special Issue on Visual Language) doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00770
  • Goldin-Meadow, S., and D. Brentari. 2017. "Gesture, sign and language: The coming of age of sign language and gesture studies." Brain and Behavioral Sciences 40.
  • Brentari, D., M. Coppola, P.W. Cho, and A. Senghas. 2017. "Handshape complexity as a pre-cursor to phonology: Variation, emergence, and acquisition." Language Acquisition 24(4): 283-306. doi:10.1080/10489223.2016.1187614
  • Brentari, D. and M. Coppola. 2016. "Nicaraguan Sign Language." Serious Science. http://serious- science.org/nicaraguan-sign-language-6876
  • Brentari, D., J. Falk, and G.Wolford. 2015. "The acquisition of American Sign Language Prosody." Language, 91(3): e144-e168.

2019-2020 Course Offerings

Phonological Analysis I (LING 30101)  - Autumn 2019

This course introduces cross-linguistic phonological phenomena and methods of analysis through an in-depth examination of fundamental notions that transcend differences between theoretical approaches: contrast, neutralization, natural classes, distinctive features, and basic non-linear phonological processes (e.g., assimilation, harmony, dissimilation).

The American Deaf Community: Language, Culture and Society (LING 26030) - Winter 2020

This course will focus on the Deaf community that uses American Sign Language (ASL) as a lens into the disciplines of linguistics, psychology, and cultural studies, and how the use of ASL contributes to individual identity and identity within society.  In addition to these disciplinary foci, topics of Deaf literature and art forms will figure in the discussion and readings, which come from a variety of sources and include seminal works in the field from historical and contemporary perspectives.

2020-2021 Course Offerings

Seminar in Phonology & Morphology: Multiple Verb Predicates (LING 52410) - Autumn 2020

This course will address the wide range of multiple verb predicates across the world's languages. Readings will address the diagnostics for the category "serial verb" versus other types of multiple verb predicates in signed and spoken languages.

The American Deaf Community: Language, Culture and Society (LING 26030) - Winter 2021

This course will focus on the Deaf community that uses American Sign Language (ASL) as a lens into the disciplines of linguistics, psychology, and cultural studies, and how the use of ASL contributes to individual identity and identity within society.  In addition to these disciplinary foci, topics of Deaf literature and art forms will figure in the discussion and readings, which come from a variety of sources and include seminal works in the field from historical and contemporary perspectives.