Research Overview

My research interests lie in studying the universal properties of human language, irrespective of the physical modality; the interaction between linguistic structure and the physical modality through which the language is transmitted; the interaction between linguistic structure and other conceptual categories, such as spatial relations; the course of development of languages. In order to tackle these issues, I study two types of languages – sign languages (Israeli Sign Language and a sign language that emerged recently in a Bedouin community) and spoken languages (mainly Modern Hebrew).

My research on sign languages focuses on:

1. development of sign languages – both ISL and the Bedouin Sign Language (with my colleagues Wendy Sandler, Carol Padden and Mark Aronoff).

2. the morphological system of ISL, in particular the interaction between morphology and thematic structure in the verb agreement system of ISL.

3. effects of modality on grammatical structure: (a) the effect of the spatial nature of sign languages on their linguistic structures; (b)the interaction between the propensity of sign languages for iconic expression and their grammatical structures.

My research on Modern Hebrew focuses mainly on recent diachronic developments within the morphological system of the language, in particular nominal suffixation processes and the coding of gender in numerals.