Ted Supalla, director of the American Sign Language program and associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences and of linguistics at the University of Rochester, has received a research fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The grant will support a six-month sabbatical beginning in January, 2001, for Supalla to continue his research on the formation and historical change of American Sign Language (ASL) and on the general processes by which sign languages are formed and change over time.
Supalla has collected materials on ASL and on French Sign Language (FSL), which was brought to America in the 19th century by a French deaf educator who established the first American school for the deaf. Supalla will examine the differences and similarities of ASL and FSL and the relationships among their different structures.
Supalla is building a digital library of historical and modern sign language data from a variety of related sign languages. The collection will create a unique database of historical data and a powerful comparative tool for use by researchers and educators.
The $24,000 fellowship is the second grant Supalla has been awarded by the NEH.