July 21, 2022

MA Thesis Defence - Lydia Castro

Lydia Castro will be defending their MA thesis:

Handshape markedness in American Sign Language

Friday, August 19th, 11am via Zoom.

Please use this websurvey link to request the Zoom log in credentials by August 15th. Please note, ASL interpretation and closed captioning will be available for this defence.


Markedness in sign languages, and particularly handshape markedness, is an area of study that is relatively new. Corpus and participant studies have provided some information about specific subsets of handshapes, and about the prevalence of specific handshapes cross-linguistically, though literature is sparser when looking at other aspects of markedness. Williams and Newman (2016) showed that markedness and sonority interact to affect word learning. This study is a partial replication focusing on the interaction of markedness and location.

Participants learned a series of nonsense signed words paired with images, with accuracy scores used to measure learning. The pseudowords contained various marked and unmarked handshapes, and were also varied by location (controlling for sonority). No significant effect of handshape markedness on response accuracy was found; however, participant accuracy was significantly affected by whether the target and competitor words were articulated in the same location.

Keywords: phonology; markedness; sign language; perception; word learning; phonological acquisition

Members of Examining Committee:

Chair: Heather Bliss
Supervisor: Ashley Farris-Trimble
Committee Member: Henny Yeung
External Examiner: Kathleen Hall (University of British Columbia)

LING community members – including family and friends of the candidate – are welcome to attend this defence. 

Videoconference connection information will be provided only to those who RSVP to the event by August 15th, (5 days prior to the defence date).  If you wish to attend this defence, RSVP via the websurvey link above.

Upcoming Thesis Defences