Term: Fall 2020
LING 300 The Cognitive Science of Sign Language
Natural sign languages like American Sign Language have all of the structure and complexity of spoken languages. They are learned and processed like spoken languages, and activate neural structures that maximally overlap with those activated by spoken languages. These findings have not only had important implications for the sociopolitical status of Deaf people, as a native, American minority community but also have caused linguists and psychologists to re-evaluate their most fundamental theories of language representation and processing in the mind and brain. The course introduces you to the analysis of sign languages at different levels of linguistic structure and related aspects of cognition in the visual modality. The primary goal is to encourage you―as linguists, psychologists, and cognitive scientists―to consider how natural sign languages can and must inform your linguistic theories (linguistics), models of language and cognition (psychology), and technological applications of language processing (computer science/artificial intelligence). We also consider the ways in which signing communities/Deaf culture interact with the hearing world―often as marginalized minority groups―and reflect upon access to language and information as a basic human right.
Some background in linguistic structure, cognitive science, any signed language, or permission of the instructor is preferred.
This course can be applied towards the Social Sciences Yale College distributional requirement.