Carla Morris’s dissertation defense will be on Tuesday, March 22, 2016, at 2 p.m. at HMB 1001. Everyone is invited to attend the public presentation during the first 40 minutes of the defense. Here is a summary of her dissertation.
Examining the Associations between Social Network Ties and Linguistic Production
Ms. Morris’s study examines how the relationship of two deaf adults affects their production of ASL and how this production differs from when they converse with other adult members of the same social network and language community. As all interpersonal relationships in a social network vary in strength and comfort, each tie within a dyad has its own measure of these two social variables. Previous sociolinguistic research on spoken language has found that unique ties within a social network do influence intra-speaker variation. While previous sign language studies have described linguistic variations and their associations with certain demographic social variables, this preliminary study examines the social network’s influence on such variations. Linguistic analysis focused on the frequency patterns exhibited by citation and non-citation forms of handedness, examining whether those signs were produced by deaf native ASL signers with one or two hands and whether that form matched the handedness cited in The Gallaudet Dictionary of American Sign Language (Valli 2005). Data was collected through written questionnaires and through filmed interactions in which two participants engaged in free conversation. It was hypothesized that citation and non-citation forms would exhibit their own frequency patterns, and there would be positive associations between those patterns and relationship strengths, as well as positive associations between those frequencies and participants’ mean comfort levels. The outcomes of this study will be applicable and beneficial not only for linguists, but also for language users, language learners, teachers, and interpreters.
The department congratulates Carla for making it this far in his dissertation studies.