So-One Hwang is currently in her 4th year as a Ph.D. student in the Department of Linguistics at UMD. She is collaborating with Dr. Gaurav Mathur and Ph.D. student Clifton Langdon at Gallaudet University to conduct experiments on the perception of American Sign Language. This project is co-sponsored by Maryland’s NSF-IGERT program and Gallaudett’s NSF Science of Learning Center on visual language.
Some provocative recent findings in spoken language perception suggest that precise temporal order of speech sounds is not so important. Speech remains surprisingly intelligible even when successive chunks of the speech sound are reversed (Saberi & Perrott, 1999, Nature). So-One and her colleagues are exploring a sign-language version of the same approach by taking videos of signers and time-reversing chunks of increasing duration. The linguistic units of ASL tend to be longer than their speech counterparts, and the team is investigating whether order-insensitivity is correspondingly extended for sign language perception.