Conventionalization of lexicons in social networks

In my master’s work, we showed (1) that Nicaraguan Sign Language conventionalized a basic lexicon faster than did four different homesign systems, and (2) a group of simulated agents in a social network like that of NSL (roughly, a fully connected one) conventionalized faster than a group of agents in a social network like that of homesign (a star network, with the homesigner at the middle). We thus have suggestive evidence that full networks are faster at conventionalization than are star networks. With Matt Hall and my co-advisor Marie Coppola, I am now pursuing verifying these network effects experimentally with hearing individuals brought into a lab setting.

Conventionalization and reduction of referring expressions

For my dissertation, I used the experimental data from the above project, as well as agent-based models extended from those of my master’s, to understand why conventionalization and reduction of referring expressions are correlated in naturalistic language emergence and change.

Are prosodic representations amodal?: An ERP investigation

Which properties of languages and linguistic representations are shaped by the channels in which they are used – auditory-oral for spoken languages and visual-manual for signed languages — and which properties are shared across channels, suggesting that they reflect an amodal or supramodal language system? With Marie Coppola, Nicole Landi, Kaja Jasinska, Sandra Wood, and a host of other collaborators, we are investigating whether amodality might extend to processing of prosodic phrasing, by comparing ERP responses to intonational phrase boundaries in a signed language (ASL) to those in a spoken language (English).