I am interested in how people create meaning during face-to-face interactions and how we can unify all the different ways that humans communicate within a theory of language. I am also interested in how enactment and other less conventional strategies for making meaning fit into language description and comparison. You can watch an Auslan vlog or read a blog about this topic here.
I use corpus methods to analyse and describe the semiotics used by signers and speakers during face-to-face interactions. A corpus is a machine-readable database of language use from many people in a language community. I have worked with the Auslan Corpus to describe how Auslan signers integrate different semiotic strategies within signed clause utterances, and how enactment enables signers to perform important parts of their stories.
More recently, we have investigated how Auslan signers recruit different strategies to talk about humans, animals and things. We are expanding this study to investigate the same question in ISL (Irish Sign Language), NTS (Norwegian Sign Language), STS (Swedish Sign Language) and suomalainen viittomakieli (Finnish Sign Language).
We are beginning to see how BSL signers do reference too, using the BSL Corpus. We are also investigating other aspects of BSL grammar, such as how signers ask questions, signal negation and organise their utterances. We use ELAN software and mostly draw from the Auslan Corpus Annotation Guidelines to annotate corpus data. Soon we will publish a book chapter summarising best practices in annotating signed language corpora. We will also publish a dialogue about how signed language corpus linguistics and linguistic ethnography methods can complement each other.
I led the building and archiving of the first directly comparable corpus of a deaf signed language (Auslan) and the ambient spoken language (Australian English). This corpus will enable us to compare how pairs of deaf signers and pairs of hearing speakers interact in face-to-face interactions.
A subset of this corpus is also archived at PARDISEC as part of the Social Cognition Parallax Interview Corpus Project. This project is a collaboration between linguists working with data from over twenty languages from around the world. We are investigating different grammatical categories relevant to social cognition, such as how to talk about humans, how to express stance and attitudes, and so on. Auslan is the only signed language in this project.
It is important for linguistic theory to reflect how language is used in the real world, and to enable continuity across different applied contexts. The creation of signed language translations, where a written or spoken source text is translated into a signed target text, is one area where theory and practice cross-over.
We have investigated what makes an effective signed language translation for deaf audiences. We also developed technical guidelines for improving the production of these translations. Soon we will publish a paper about what deaf signing diversity means for the creation of signed language translations and language theory more generally.
I love dance and music. I have written about what happened when deaf signers of Auslan and hearing non-signing speakers of English and other languages collaborated on a contemporary dance performance in Australia. This work is published in an edited book about sign language ideologies in practice. You can view a summary in IS or English via the Acadeafic website.
Deafness & disability research
I am proud to be a deaf person. However, living in a hearing-centric world is often challenging. I have written about how deafness can emerge as a disability in specific social interactions, and how to survive and succeed as a deaf postgraduate student in Australia. I am also collaborating on a project with other deaf academics about what it means to "trust" signed language interpreters.
I love the deaf community and care deeply about positive outcomes for deaf people. I have led a project to improve the ability of deaf signers to prepare, respond and recover from natural hazard emergencies such as bushfire and flood. I also collaborated on a project investigating what would make a good deaf community centre for the deaf community in Melbourne.
signed Language assessment tools
Assessing deaf children's signed language development is hugely challenging. I have worked with deaf and hearing colleagues to adapt the BSL Receptive Skills Test and Productive Skills Test to Auslan, and am involved in training teachers how to use these tests effectively.