Welcome Research Projects Publications


Our lab has five faculty members conducting an active research agenda in several areas of language acquisition.

Melvatha Chee

Melvatha Chee's research analyzes child language data collected from first language speakers of Navajo. She primarily examines how children learn to use the morphologically complex Navajo verb. Additionally, she is working to build a Navajo language corpus consisting of stories, narratives, and conversations. Her research interests include first language acquisition, morphophonology, polysynthesis, semantics, morphology, the application of cognitive linguistics to Navajo, and the intersection between language, culture and linguistics, and indigenous language sustainability.

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Jill P. Morford

Jill P. Morford's research investigates language acquisition and processing in the visual modality. In particular, she is interested in (1) the effects of language input on the development of language processing skills, and (2) the effects of the visual modality on the structure and processing of language, and (3) bilingual lexical access.

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Barbara Shaffer

Barbara Shaffer's research interests include the grammaticalization of signed languages, stance markers in ASL, intersubjectivity in discourse, and intersubjectivity in interpreted interactions. She has published on the historical development of ASL lexical items, intersubjectivity in discourse, and interpreted interactions. Her work on child language has explored interactions of cognitive and social development with the emergence of stance markers in young deaf children.

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Naomi Shin

Naomi Shin's primary interests include child language acquisition, bilingualism, and language contact. Her research focuses on patterns of morphosyntactic variation, examining how these patterns are acquired during childhood and how they change in situations of language contact. She has two corpora of Spanish child language, which UNM students have used for research. Naomi teaches courses on child language acquisition, sociolinguistics, childhood bilingualism, language change, and Spanish in the U.S., and Gramática española: Variación Social.

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Erin Wilkinson

Erin Wilkinson's research interests include bilingualism in signing populations, language change and variation in signed languages, and signed language typology. Her recent research has explored whether semantic overlap in two languages is sufficient to activate cross-language lexical processing in deaf and non-deaf signers. She and her collaborators find that deaf adult bilinguals showed simultaneous activation of ASL signs and English print despite no direct phonetic overlap. They also find evidence for connections between signs and printed words among deaf middle-school students. Furthermore, the studies show that both younger and older deaf signers are much faster at making semantic decisions compared to hearing non-signers. This finding leads to a new line of investigation pursuing the question: what cognitive factors explain why deaf signers process printed words significantly faster than hearing non-signers?

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Department of Linguistics. MSC03-2130. 1 University of New Mexico. Albuquerque, NM 87131.

Physical Location: Humanities, Room 447 Phone: 505-277-6353 lobolanguage@unm.edu