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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Query Details

Query Subject:   Sign Language Elicitation Techniques (Survey)
Author:   Carlo Cecchetto
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Applied Linguistics
Language Documentation

Query:   As coordinators of a network of researchers working on European sign
languages funded by the intergovernmental framework for European
Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST), we are contacting
sign language researchers for a survey on elicitation techniques for
different grammatical aspects of sign languages. The SignGram COST
Action “Unraveling the grammars of European sign languages:
pathways to full citizenship of deaf signers and to the protection of their
linguistic heritage” aims at creating a common blueprint to develop
grammars for the different European sign languages.

There are still many aspects of the grammar of European sign
languages that need to be thoroughly explored before a
comprehensive reference grammar can be produced (this holds for
more studied sign languages, even more so for sign languages that
have a more recent research tradition). In order to facilitate this
research, specific elicitation techniques for the different grammatical
properties are needed. Of course we do not start from scratch, so the
first step is collecting materials that have been already used for
elicitation and evaluating to what extent they could accompany the
blueprint as a development tool. That is why we decided to create a
first inventory of such materials, classified for the specific purpose it
was used for. At a later stage (if the researchers agree and there no
copyright problem) this material could be uploaded in the SignGram
Cost Action webpage, which is currently under construction. This
should allow different teams to use the same type of material to study
the same linguistic phenomenon in different sign languages (modulo
differences among them studied, of course). “Materials” is an umbrella
term, which includes pictures, videos but also more immaterial devices
(like plays, ways to set up linguistic exchanges, suggestions on how to
fix problems that usually arise when a specific setting is used, etc. ).
Although the institutional goal of COST is promoting the study of
European sign languages, we know that this survey might be helpful
also for researchers working on non-European sign languages.
If you or your research group have materials that you are
willing/allowed to share with other researchers, please contact our
colleague Galini Sapounztaki at the following e-mail address:

She will send you a questionnaire that you are kindly requested to fill in
and send back to her by April, 12 (this questionnaire was prepared
mainly by our colleagues Kearsy Cormier and Christian Rathmann).
This would be the first step. Those who answer the questionnaire will
be contacted again, with a report about our survey. The information on
where to find the results of the survey will be posted in this list.
I hope that you find this initiative useful and I thank you in advance for
your time and for your invaluable help,

Carlo Cecchetto and Josep Quer
LL Issue: 23.1117
Date posted: 06-Mar-2012


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