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After 40 years of sign language research, what do we know?

Author: Ronnie Wilbur

Dr Ronnie Wilbur, professor of linguistics, investigates the structure of American Sign Language (ASL). Her teaching responsibilities include courses in general linguistics (syntax), the linguistic structure of American Sign Language, and language, deafness, and bilingualism. She is the editor-in-chief of the journal Sign Language & Linguistics. She is also Chair of the Linguistics Program.

Dr. Wilbur's research approaches language problems from a variety of perspectives. She has investigated literacy problems of school-age deaf children, and she has studied the acquisition of sign language. Her current research investigates the interaction of ASL sentence structure with prosodic markers and pragmatic functions. Nonmanual markers, such as blinks, brow raises, and head nods, are investigated to determine how intonation is carried in a signed language. A new NSF-funded project was begun in 1999 with Dr. Avi Kak, Electrical and Computer Engineering, using robot-vision techniques and a novel linguistic interface to perform automatic sign recognition.


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