Linguistics and research

As complex languages in a different modality, sign languages offer the unique opportunity to study modality independent universal principles underlying all languages of the world, regardless of whether they are spoken or signed. Linguistic sign language research has shown that language is in itself independent from its modality, which means that both signed and spoken languages are based on the same language system. Thus, we are examining languages as part of a more complex cognitive system and investigate into how far linguistic theories – which are based mainly on spoken language data – can be transferred to sign language. This is of main interest to research into language universals in general. The main research fields of our team are the grammars of sign languages (especially German Sign Language), the typology of sign languages, the processing of sign languages as well as the non-manual components and the diachronic development of sign languages. We are currently conducting linguistic and neurolinguistic studies on German Sign Language (see projects). The Experimental Sign Language Lab in Göttingen allows us to work on professional data collection, to create uniform stimulus material, and to conduct and evaluate neurolinguistic experiments.