Workshop of the Hamburg DGS Corpus Projekt

DGS KorpusAnnika Herrmann and Julian Bleicken from the IDGS (Institute of German Sign Language and Communication of the Deaf) at the University of Hamburg will give a lecture on Saturday, November 25 at 10am which will provide exciting insights into the DGS corpus project. Afterwards, we cordially invite all participants to a small reception. After the reception, there will be an additional in-depth workshop on the German Sign Language dictionary from 12-14pm. For this workshop, you can either use one of our laptops or your own laptop. A maximum of 20 people can take part in the workshop. Both events are accessible in DGS and German.

First annual meeting of ViCom in Bad Homburg
vicom_logoFrom November 7 to 10, 2022, the first annual meeting of our priority program Visual Communication (ViCom) will take place at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften in Bad Homburg. During the four days, all 19 projects will present first results and discuss in small working groups possible collaborations, milestones and objectives for the second year. An important part of the program are three workshops on DGS and Deaf awareness by Liona Paulus, visual salience by Heinrich R. Liesefeld and "How to PhD" by Sabine Preusse. For Thursday afternoon, our Mercator Fellow Philippe Schlenker (Institut Jean-Nicod, CNRS and New York University) has been invited for a plenary presentation. In addition to the scientific exchange during the day, time is reserved in the evening for social activities and informal discussions. More information on the annual meeting can be found here.

ViCom workshop “Establishing a lexical database for psycholinguistic research on German Sign Language (DGS)”
DGS-LEX_WorkshopThe first internal ViCom project workshop on a new lexical database for psycholinguistic research on DGS took place on October, 11-12, at the University of Göttingen. The main goal of the workshop was to bring together different researchers working on DGS within ViCom and beyond who have already collected subjective rating data for different psycholinguistic variables (e.g., iconicity, transparency, age of acquisition, etc.) or are currently planning to do so and who are interested in building up a collaborative lexical database for DGS (DGS-LEX). More information about the workshop can be found here.

Questions and answers about German Sign Language
Buch_HamburgOn October 9, Thomas Finkbeiner and Nina-Kristin Meister from the University of Göttingen presented together with Liona Paulus from the University of Hamburg the first bilingual bimodal book signed in DGS and written in German, along with the new DGS Language Calendar, at the University. The presentation took place at the State and University Library in Hamburg. The unique book entitled "100 Questions and Answers about German Sign Language" will be published by Buske Publishing Company in November 2023. The team of authors explained how the book can be used with texts in German and corresponding video texts in DGS, which can be opened via QR codes. Since the book is also designed to be interactive, readers are asked to first answer the questions themselves before finding the correct answers in the book. The book and calendar presentation was held bimodally.

Workshop on multifunctional signs at Göttingen University
workshop_geottingenOn October 04, 2023, Simon Kollien, Alexander Eisenzimmer, Lara Isernhagen and Annika Herrmann from the Institute of German Sign Language and Communication of the Deaf (IDGS) at the University of Hamburg visited the Göttingen SignLab to continue the first very productive workshop on multifunctional signs that took place in Hamburg in July. The goal of the meeting was an accurate corpus evaluation of the form and function of certain multifunctional signs. The lively discussion continued over lunch at Café Botanik. Thanks a lot to the Hamburg guests for this second productive workshop.

Publication "How to produce accessible teaching videos in a higher education context" and new working group "Barrier-free Teaching and Learning Videos in Higher Education (BaLLviHo)"

Educational videos are becoming an increasingly popular medium for knowledge transfer at universities. To ensure that all students have adequate access to the teaching content, it must be provided in a barrier-free manner. Based on a careful planning process including the participation of affected persons, the following four components of accessibility have to be realized: Audio description, translation into the sign language of the respective country, subtitles and transcript. But what exactly has to be considered and how are the individual components implemented? As part of the project "Daten Lesen Lernen für Alle (DaLeLe4All)" (Learning to Read Data for All) at the University of Göttingen, we have created a guideline that contains empirical knowledge on the production of accessible videos with many tips from practice. Our working group "Barrier-free Teaching and Learning Videos in Higher Education (BaLLviHo)" emerged from this project. Our guideline teaches both the process of auditory and visual planning of the content as well as the coordination and implementation possibilities of the individual components. We are always available for an exchange in DGS and are happy to translate additional chapters into DGS upon request. If you are interested, please feel free to email us: You can use the guide here as a website and download the PDF.

Cordial invitation to the lecture "Questions and answers about German Sign Language (DGS)".

"Questions and Answers about German Sign Language (DGS). An evening with the Helmut Buske Verlag" on October 9, 2023, at 7 pm in the State and University Library Hamburg - Carl von Ossietzky (Von-Melle-Park 3): Thomas Finkbeiner and Nina-Kristin Meister, the authors of the "Language Calendar German Sign Language (Sprachkalender Deutsche Gebärdensprache)" published annually since 2019 and publishers of the new book series "German Sign Language and Deaf Communities", vividly convey knowledge about DGS and Deaf Communities. The volumes of this first bilingual-bimodal book series in DGS and written German are aimed at both deaf and hearing people who want to learn more about the manifold facets of DGS and the live of deaf people. This evening is dedicated to the first volume "100 Questions and Answers about German Sign Language (DGS)", which will be presented by the authors Thomas Finkbeiner, Nina-Kristin Meister and Liona Paulus. The presentation will be bimodal in DGS and spoken German.

Our former PhD student Liona Paulus was appointed professor at the University of Hamburg
Liona-PaulusLiona Paulus has accepted an appointment to a professorship at the Institute for German Sign Language and Communication of the Deaf (IDGS), where she will teach and conduct research starting October 1, 2023. Liona successfully defended her PhD thesis on causal clauses in German and Brazilian Sign Language at the University of Göttingen in 2019 and subsequently worked as a research assistant in the field of sign language interpreting at the University of Cologne. We are very happy about the offer of a professorship at the University of Hamburg and wish Liona all the best for her new position.

First ViCom Project Workshop in October in Göttingen
vicom_logoOn October 11 and 12, 2023, the first ViCom project workshop on "Establishing a Lexical Database for Psycholinguistic Research on German Sign Language (DGS)" will take place in Göttingen. The workshop is jointly organized by the two ViCom projects "The Gesture-to-Sign Trajectory (University of Cologne) and "Parts of Speech and Iconicity in DGS" (University of Göttingen and Max Planck Institute Leipzig). The goal of the workshop is to establish a lexical database for DGS with phonological, lexical, and sociolinguistic information that will provide a freely available and extensible basis for future psycho- and neurolinguistic experiments. More information about the workshop can be found here.

Translated with (free version)

Language calendar for German Sign Language (DGS)

There is a new calendar for German Sign Language (DGS) for the year 2024. The calendar can be used to expand knowledge about DGS and the sign language community in small daily portions. It is already the fifth newly written calendar on DGS by Thomas Finkbeiner and Nina-Kristin Meister. The sheets of the tear-off calendar offer a mix of information, tips and exercises on the five topic headings "Vocabulary", "Grammar", "Conversational Situation", "Culture" and "Did you know ...?". At the heart of the calendar are over 950 photos of signs taken with nine deaf people and one Coda (= Children of Deaf Adults, English term for hearing children of deaf parents). These are supplemented by numerous photos of handshapes of the signs in close-up. For better understanding, all the signs are accompanied by arrows for movement. In addition, 29 signed practice videos have been created and can be accessed via QR codes and internet links. The calendar can be ordered directly from Helmut Buske Verlag and in any bookstore.

Words, gestures and Signs ViCom presentation at the children's university
kinder-uniAs part of the 20th Children's University at Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Cornelia Ebert and Markus Steinbach will give a lecture on "The speaking hands: exploring the difference between words, gestures and signs" on 6 Okotober 2024 at 9 am, 11.30 am and 4 pm. The lecture will be interpreted into German Sign Language by two sign language interpreters. The flyer of the children's university 2023 can be found here and the website of the children's university with further information on registration and arrival here (both in German only).

ViCom at the ESSLLI summer school
ESSLLI23Our DFG priority program ViCom was represented with a course on the semantics of visual communication at the 34th Summer School for Logic, Language and Information (ESSLLI) in Ljubljana this year. The advanced course, taught jointly by Cornelia Ebert (University of Frankfurt am Main) and Markus Steinbach (University of Göttingen), dealt with fundamental problems for modern formal semantic theories that arise when analyzing different phenomena of visual communication. After an overview of the semantic foundations of visual communication, general problems for formal semantic analyses of visual phenomena and possible solutions were discussed on the basis of selected examples (iconic gestures, role shift in sign languages and emoji in online communication). The last day was then reserved for presentations of participants' own research work. Visit the ESSLLI 2023 website for more information.

LSA Linguistic Institute at UMASS Amherst
LSA UMASS AMHERSTThe Linguistic Institute of the Linguistic Society of America took place in Amherst Massachusetts this year from June 19th to July 14th. The Institute offered 88 courses as well as various lectures, conferences and workshops. Among the courses this year was an introduction to sign language research, a course on sign language acquisition as a human right, as well as a workshop on the issue of iconicity in sign languages. Two members of the SignLab team, Gautam Ottur and Pia Gehlbach, attended this summers' Institute.

One-day workshop on multifunctiional signs in DGS
hamburg_workshopOn July 25, 2023, Nina-Kristin Meister and Thomas Finkbeiner visited the IDGS at Hamburg University to discuss with colleagues at the IDGS the form and function of multifunctional signs in DGS. After initial clarifications and examples used in teaching and linguistic research, data from the DGS corpus were jointly evaluated. At lunch, the intense and fruitful discussions continued. It was a day entirely in DGS and in the spirit of participatory linguistic research. The results of this research project will ultimately flow back into DGS teaching. Thanks to all participants and especially the Hamburg hosts for a really productive workshop and a great start into an interesting working group.

Workshop at the DGfS: "Clause-type Marking in the Visual Modality"
Annika Herrmann, Nina-Kristin Meister, Marloes Oomen, and Floris Roelofsen are organizing a workshop on "Clause-type Marking in the Visual Modality" at the 46th Annual Meeting of the German Linguistic Society (DGfS) at the Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, February 28 - March 1, 2024. We look forward to receiving signed or written abstracts. You can find more information in International Sign and English on our workshop website.

Closing workshop of the seminar on visual communication
vicom_logoAs part of the Master’s seminar "Visual Communication", which has been collaboratively organized by the Goethe-University Frankfurt (Cornelia Ebert), the University of Göttingen (Markus Steinbach) and the University of Wuppertal (Stefan Hinterwimmer), there will be a closing workshop on July 14, 2023, at Goethe-University Frankfurt. The program of the workshop can be found here.

Information video for our new ViCom project

Presentation of the Sign Team Göttingen at the university's public lecture series
RingvorlesungOn June 27, 2023, Thomas Finkbeiner, Nina-Kristin Meister, and Markus Steinbach gave a bimodal lecture on participatory research and teaching in sign language linguistics as part of the public lecture series on discrimination at the University of Göttingen. The talk focused on the ethical, scientific and cultural necessity of participatory research on the one hand, and on the challenges and benefits of participatory sign language linguistics on the other hand. Finally, some best practice examples were presented and barriers were identified that still need to be overcome on the way to real participatory research.

Lecture on sign languages at the Long Night of the Sciences in Leipzig
LeipzigDuring the Long Night of the Sciences in Leipzig on June 23, 2023, sign language interpreters will accompany some of the program points at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences. In this context, Patrick Trettenbrein will give a lecture on "Basics of Sign Language in the Brain" at 8 pm. The flyer of the event with further information can be found here (in German only).

Workshop on interrogatives and imperatives in the visual modality
AmsterdamOn May 16 and 17, the SignLabs of the University of Amsterdam and the University of Göttingen organized a joint workshop on interrogative and imperative sentence types and speech acts in the visual modality at the University of Amsterdam. The first day focused on methods, with different sessions devoted to different elicitation methods and experimental designs, data annotation and data analysis. On the second workshop day, five research groups from Barcelona, Bergen, Amsterdam and Göttingen presented results of their recent empirical studies on interrogatives and imperatives in the visual modality as well as on and related topics. You can find more information on the workshop website.

Class on visual communication at the 34th European Summer School in Logic, Language and Information (ESSLLI)
vicom_logoIn recent formal semantic research, both sign language and co-speech gestures have been analyzed by applying the theories established for spoken languages to visual meaning aspects. Only little attention has been paid to modelling the specific properties of the visual transmission channel. However, it is now becoming evident that the formal linguistic repertoire needs to be extended to meet the modality-specific requirements of visual communication such as the higher degree of iconicity of gestures and signs, the systematic use of the body of the speaker or signer and the space in front of the body to express, for instance, logical variables, comparative constructions, tense, topographic relations or context shift and the option to demonstrate actions and events. In this class on the semantics of visual communication, we will discuss selected examples illustrating the expressive power of visible communication and discuss recent formal accounts that enhance the formal linguistic apparatus to develop formally precise theories that can deal with and model the semantics of visual and multimodal communication. You can find more information on the website of ESSLLI 2023.

New GSGG funding line for accessibility for PhD students
GSGG-BarrierefreiThe Graduate School of Humanities Göttingen (GSGG) understands the reduction of communicative barriers as part of its mission to offer all members the best possible conditions for a successful completion of their PhD thesis. The GSGG therefore supports severely disabled and chronically ill PhD students who require special support in order to take advantage of qualification and networking opportunities. More information about the funding line and a first success story can be found here (only in German).

Joint research-oriented ViCom colloquium summer term 2023
vicom_logoThis semester, we offer a seminar on visual communication in cooperation with the Goethe-University Frankfurt (Prof. Dr. Cornelia Ebert) and the University of Wuppertal (Prof. Dr. Stefan Hinterwimmer). The seminar investigates the special features and linguistic significance of visual communication. This comprises sign languages as fully developed natural languages which exclusively rely on the visual channel for communication, but also visual means that enhance spoken and written languages such as gestures or emojis. Recent research on sign language and co-speech gestures in spoken languages shows that the expressivity of the visual-gestural modality provides direct insights into the semantic and pragmatic structure of utterances. In addition, iconic aspects of language play a central role in the evolution and constitution of meanings in sign language and co-speech gestures. You can find more information on the ViCom website.

Public lecture series on discrimination
RingvorlesungSociety is in a period of transition. Current crises challenge everyone to leave their comfort zone. Existing resentments are coming to light more and more openly. There has been a sharp increase in racist and anti-Semitic attacks. At the same time, universities and research institutions are not discrimination-free spaces. The risks of discrimination that can be found in everyday university life is still underestimated. The University of Göttingen has decided to develop a discrimination protection concept. We want to take this as an opportunity to deal with the topic intensively for one semester. The current lecture series will examine discrimination in its various manifestations. It is about the dismantling of discriminatory structures, the increase of mutual respect and the call for equal participation of all participants in science, studies, the workplace and daily interaction in an ever faster changing society. More information about the lecture series can be found here (only in German).

First ViCom theory workshop
vicom_logoFrom March 28 to 30, 2023, the first theory workshop of our new priority program Visual Communication (ViCom) will take place in Königstein im Taunus. Over the three days, we will explore formal semantic and cognitive theories of visual communication in detail together with our first Mercator Fellow Philippe Schlenker. The focus will be on how classical semantic theories can be extended to meet the specific requirements of the visual-gestural modality. Another important question will be the semantic interaction of the different modalities in multimodal communication. You can find more information about the workshop and the priority program here.

Our language calendar for DGS in the magazine Life InSight
DGS-Kalender_LifeInsightIn the current issue of the lifestyle magazine "Life InSight", which is about topics around the sign language community, our language calendar for DGS got a place :-). You can find more information about the magazine here:

Sign languages and visible communication - Special session at the NELS
NELSThe special session on "Sign Languages and Visible Communication" at this year's annual meeting of the North Eastern Linguistic Society (NELS) was a great success. About 80 participants attended the workshop, the poster presentation, and the plenary talk by Diane Brentari. We would like to thank all presenters and participants and the international team of interpreters for the exciting presentations and interesting discussions and look forward to further research and discussions on this highly topical issue in linguistic research.

Sign Lab expands interactive e-learning module for the introductory courses on German Sign Language.
E_LearningThe state of Lower Saxony supports a new project of the Sign Lab Göttingen within the funding program "Innovation plus". The goal of the project is to extend our successful multimedia e-learning module to the introductory courses DGS II and III. Building on the e-learning module developed in 2020 for the introductory course DGS I, the new module will again consist of four different components: (i) lexicon, (ii) exercises, (iii) glossary and (iv) grammar. The extension of our basic module to the more advanced DGS courses will contribute significantly to a sustainable improvement of sign language teaching at the University of Göttingen. More information can be found here.

Special session on visual communication and sign language at the 53rd NELS conference at the University of Göttingen
NELS logoPart of the 53rd conference of the North Eastern Linguistic Society (NELS), which will be jointly organized with the Research Training Group 2636 "Form-meaning Mismatches" is a workshop on visual communication and sign languages. This special session, which will take place on January 13, 2023, at the University of Göttingen in a hybrid fashion, was organized in collaboration with the new priority program 2329 "Visual Communication (Vicom)". We are pleased that Diane Brentari from the University of Chicago accepted our invitation as plenary speaker for this workshop. More information on the conference and the workshop can be found here.