Daily Digest

Dissertation defense by Vivion Sloan

To: Students, Faculty and Staff
From: Carol J. Erting, Ph.D., dean, The Graduate School and Professional Programs

It is my pleasure to announce that Ms. Vivion S. Sloan, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Linguistics, will defend her dissertation on “ASL Nominal Constructions Involving Signs That Resemble Pronouns” on Thursday, July 18, at 9 a.m. in the Department of Linguistics open area, SLCC 3233. The first thirty minutes of the dissertation defense are open to the Gallaudet community.

Ms. Sloan’s study examines six different types of noun phrases that commonly occur in ASL.  These noun phrases all include at least a head noun and one of four signs resembling a pronoun.  The six types of noun phrases are found to represent six distinct constructions.  The study concludes that within these constructions, one of the pronoun-like signs is a pronoun functioning as an associative plural marker; the others function as either definite or indefinite determiners.  However, while ASL fits into the range of typological variation found in spoken languages, for these constructions the definite/indefinite distinction is determined not by the identifiability of the referent, but by the degree of accessibility of the referent.  Further, since all of the pronoun-like signs are directed toward their referents made present as a blend between an area of real space and a conceptual entity (i.e. made present as a token or surrogate), it is the accessibility of this token or surrogate that determines which construction is used.

The members of Ms. Sloan’s dissertation committee are Dr. Paul Dudis, co-chair of the dissertation committee, Department of Linguistics; Dr. Scott Liddell, co-chair of the dissertation committee, Department of Linguistics, University of Utah; Dr. Deborah Chen Pichler, Department of Linguistics; Dr. Kristin Mulrooney, Department of Linguistics; and Dr. William Croft, Department of Linguistics, University of New Mexico.

Ms. Sloan received her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Virginia in 1997.  She entered the PhD program in linguistics at Gallaudet University in 2006.  She was honored to teach undergraduate linguistics courses at Gallaudet from 2009 through 2011.  During the course of her graduate education, she has presented at multiple conferences, including the 2008 Georgetown University Roundtable and the High Desert Linguistics Society conferences in 2010 and 2012.  She was awarded the Outstanding Scholar award from the Lion's Club of Arlington in 2007, 2008, and 2009.  She was granted a scholarship award from the Department of Linguistics in 2007, and a scholarship and assistantship award from 2007 through 2010.  She was also awarded the Gallaudet University Graduate School Research Writing Award in 2008 for her paper on “Language and memory: Considering metaphoric iconicity and modality.”  In addition, she received a Small Grant in 2009 to support her research project titled “Are there plural determiners in ASL?”

Please join me in extending best wishes to Ms. Sloan for her dissertation defense.

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