The Sign Language Research Lab is deeply saddened by the untimely death of our dear colleague, Irit Meir, who passed away on February 23, 2018.
Education: PhD in English Linguistics, Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1999)
Irit Meir was an associate professor in the Department of Hebrew Language and the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders in the University of Haifa, and the associate director of the Sign Language Research Lab. Her research interests included sign language linguistics, focusing on morpho-syntax and argument structure, modality effects on linguistic structure with a special focus on iconicity and its interaction with grammar, as well as ilanguage emergence in new sign languages and the interaction between the linguistic structure of language and the socio-linguistic context in which it develops. She also studied morphology, syntax and language change in Modern Hebrew. Irit Meir co-authored the book A Language in Space: The Story of Israeli Sign Language with Wendy Sandler (Hebrew version: University of Haifa Press (second edition forthcoming); English version: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates/Taylor Francis), and co-edited with Moshe Bar-Asher the book, Nit’ey Ilan: Studies in Hebrew and its sister languages in honor of Ilan Eldar. Jerusalem: Carmel.
Irit was fascinated by the phenomenon of language: how it is structured, how it emerges, grows and develops, how we, humans, use it to communicate and how language is shaped by non-linguistic factors.
In order to address these issues, she studied two types of languages – sign languages (Israeli Sign Language, Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language, Algerian Jewish Sign language among others) and spoken languages (mainly Modern Hebrew).
Irit’s research on verb agreement in sign languages found some important properties shared by spoken language verb agreement. But it also unraveled interesting differences between verb agreement systems in the two types of languages. Her subsequent research focused on factors that were found to play a role in shaping linguistic structure: the age of the language, the socio-linguistic circumstances in which it emerges and develops, the modality in which it is transmitted, and certain cognitive abilities that interact with language, such as the ability to use iconicity and metaphors in language.
- Meir, Irit, Aronoff, Mark, Börstell, Carl, Hwang, So-One, Ilkbasaran, Deniz, Kastner, Itamar, Lepic, Ryan, Lifshitz Ben-Basat, Adi, Padden, Carol, and Sandler, Wendy. 2017. The effect of being human and the basis of grammatical word order: Insights from novel communication systems and young sign languages. Cognition 158. 189-207.
- Meir, Irit, Wendy Sandler, Carol Padden, and Mark Aronoff (2013). ‘Competing Iconicities in the Structure of Languages’. Cognitive Linguistics 24(2): 309-343.
- Meir Irit (2012). ‘Word classes and word formation.’ In Pfau, R., Steinbach, M. and B. Woll (Eds.): Handbook on Sign Language Linguistics. Mouton De Greuter, 77-112.
- Meir, Irit (2010). ‘Iconicity and metaphor: Constraints on metaphorical use of iconic forms’, Language 86(4), 865-896.
- Meir, Irit (2008). ‘The role of prosody in morphological change: the case of Hebrew bound numerals‘. Language Variation and Change 20, 1-25.
- Meir, Irit, Carol Padden, Mark Aronoff and Wendy Sandler (2007). ‘Body as subject. Journal of Linguistics 43; 531-563
- Meir, Irit (2002).‘‘A cross-modality perspective on verb agreement’ Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, vol. 20.2, 413-450.
Meir, Irit (1998). Thematic structure and verb agreement in Israeli Sign Language.
Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Advisors: Dr. Yehuda Falk, Dr. Wendy Sandler.