Linguistics Department Dissertation Defense – Wanette Reynolds on the development of referent tracking in signed narratives 7/29/16 at 2 PM @College Hall Lyceum

Wanette Reynolds will be defending her dissertation Friday July 29, 2016 at 2pm in the College Hall Lyceum. The first forty minutes of the dissertation defense are open to the Gallaudet community. We invite you to come and learn about her research and support her on this important academic milestone.

Ms. Reynolds’s study examines the development of referent tracking in the signed narratives of six young elementary-school aged children who can hear, are bimodal bilinguals, and are first language acquirers of American Sign Language (ASL) and English. This study was motivated by three research questions that compare the referent tracking patterns of young bimodal bilinguals (Bibi) developmentally a year and a half apart, to Deaf age-matched peers, and to the patterns observed in heritage speaker literature.  The Bibi data reveal patterns more typical of heritage speakers than their Deaf counterparts in the overuse of overt forms for referential cohesion (Sorace & Serratrice, 2009), code-blending (Emmorey et al., 2008), and increased use of fingerspelled and English-influenced forms for tracking referents. The results point to developmental patterns that are distinct from their Deaf native-signing counterparts, but reminiscent of heritage speaker patterns. The empirical results suggest that bimodal bilinguals may be best described as heritage signers.

The members of Ms. Reynolds’s dissertation committee are Dr. Deborah Chen Pichler, chair of the dissertation committee, Department of Linguistics; Dr. Gaurav Mathur, Department of Linguistics; Dr. Mary Thumann, Department of Linguistics; and Dr. Lourdes Ortega, Department of Linguistics, Georgetown University.

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