ASL Lecture Series: Dr. Terra Edwards

Oct 26, 2017 at - | Claire M. Fagin Hall Auditorium <https://www.facilities.upenn.edu/maps/locations/fagin-hall-claire-m>

The ASL Program in the Department of Linguistics and Penn Humanities Forum are pleased to announce the ASL Lecture Series event for Fall 2017.

Dr. Terra Edwards of Saint Louis University will be presenting "Language for a Protactile World: social and interactional foundations of language emergence in DeafBlind communities" in Claire M. Fagin Hall <https://www.facilities.upenn.edu/maps/locations/fagin-hall-claire-m> Auditorium on Thursday, October 26, from 5-6:30 PM. Note the change in venue; see link for location.

Light refreshments will be served following the talk and a social hour will continue until 7:30.

*This event is free and open to the public. *  

The talk will be presented in ASL; voice interpretation will be provided for non-signing audience members.

The abstract and bio can be found below.

For questions, please contact Jami Fisher, ASL Program Coordinator, Department of Linguistics: jami@upenn.edu

*Please feel free to share with anyone who might be interested *

This presentation analyzes key social and interactional mechanisms driving a grammatical divergence between visual American Sign Language (ASL) and protactile American Sign Language (PTASL). This divergence was triggered by the protactile social movement which originated in the Seattle DeafBlind community in 2007 and since then has been spreading across the country. Protactile leaders advance the radical claim that all human activity can be realized without the use of vision or hearing. As this movement has taken root in practices and institutions, DeafBlind people who were suffering from social isolation have found themselves embedded in novel patterns of interaction, discourse, and practice. As they find new ways to talk within and about this world, the internal structure of their language is recalibrated to it. This process is leading to the emergence of new deictic and phonological systems in PTASL. Drawing on more than 10 years of linguistic and anthropological research and a recent pilot study conducted in collaboration with Dr. Diane Brentari, a phonologist at the University of Chicago, I offer a provisional sketch of these novel grammatical systems, as well as discussing the social and interactional foundations of their emergence. In doing so, I aim to shed new light on how languages emerge and develop.

Terra Edwards' research, broadly construed, is concerned with the interactional and social foundations of language and language use. For the past 18 years, she has pursued this interest in the Seattle DeafBlind community. Her dissertation (Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, 2014) examines a grammatical divergence between Visual American Sign Language (VASL) and Tactile American Sign Language (TASL), triggered by the recent pro-tactile movement. She has focused mostly on emergent phonological and morphological systems in TASL.