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Professor of French and Linguistics

 Phone: (617) 353-6218


  [New address!]   Map and directions
 Boston University Department of Romance Studies
 Linguistics Program
  621 Commonwealth Avenue, room 101
  Boston, MA 02215

OFFICE HOURS beginning September 3, 2013:
Walk in: Mondays 9:45 - noon, Wednesdays, 2 - 2:45 pm. for a different time.

Where to?

       bullet Research Interests
     bullet Research Projects
     bullet Publications
     bullet Talks


       bullet Recent Ph.D. Students
     bullet Academic Background/Current Affiliations
     bullet Courses Taught

     bullet ASL Linguistic Research Project
     bullet SignStream version 2
     bullet National Center for Sign Language
         and Gesture Resources
     bullet Publications (with abstracts)
     bullet CD-ROM Distrib

    bullet Sign Language links
     bullet Linguistics links
     bullet Resources for Research

     bullet Linguistics: Undergraduate
                 Interdisciplinary graduate program
     bullet Romance Studies

BU undergraduate Linguistics Association (BULA)



Current Local Linguistics Events


  Syntax and syntactic theories, with a focus on American Sign Language, Russian, and French


  Director, American Sign Language Linguistic Research Project (ASLLRP), a collaborative project encompassing the following subprojects funded by grants from the National Science Foundation:


The Architecture of Functional Categories in American Sign Language

Investigation of the syntactic structure of ASL, with particular emphasis on the hierarchical representation of functional categories and on the manual and non-manual expressions of grammatical information.


SignStream: A Multimedia Tool for Language Research

Development of a computer program designed to facilitate linguistic analysis of video-based language data; SignStream allows simultaneous access to raw video data and to representations of those data in linguistically useful formats and is distributed on a non-profit basis to students, educators, and researchers.


Essential Tools for Computational Research on Visual-Gestural Language Data

Collaboration with Stan Sclaroff in Computer Science at BU.

This project involves a Java reimplementation of SignStream to include tools for efficient data entry of fine-grained phonological information and integration of information provided by computer algorithms, among other new features. Machine vision-based algorithms for semi-automation of several aspects of the transcription process will also be developed.


National Center for Sign Language and Gesture Resources.

Collaboration between Boston University (the ASLLRP and Stan Sclaroff's Image and Video Computing Group) and Rutgers University (Dimitris Metaxas).


The goal of this project is to make available several different types of experimental resources and analyzed data to facilitate linguistic and computational research on signed languages and the gestural components of spoken languages.


Pattern Discovery in Signed Languages and Gestural Communication


Collaboration with Margrit Betke, George Kollios, and Stan Sclaroff in Computer Science at BU.

Pattern analysis algorithms are being developed for discovery of the co-occurrence, overlap, relative timing, frequency, and magnitude of non-manual gestures in ASL.


ITR-Collaborative Research: Advances in recognition and interpretation of human motion: An Integrated Approach to ASL Recognition


Collaboration with Dimitris Metaxas, Ahmed Elgammal and Vladimir Pavlovic (Rutgers University) and Christian Vogler (Gallaudet University)

This project focuses on integration of information (which is linguistically essential) from both the manual and non-manual channels for purposes of computer-based sign language recognition.
Large Lexicon Gesture Representation, Recognition, and Retrieval

Collaboration with Stan Sclaroff (BU Computer Science) and Vassilis Athitsos (University of Texas at Arlington)


One goal of the research is development of a "look-up" capability, whereby a signer can produce a sign in front of a camera, or identify a sign in a video, and have the computer identify which sign it is. One application of this technology would be an interface for a multi-media sign language dictionary.

bullet Linguistically Based ASL Sign Recognition as a Structured Multivariate Learning Problem
  Collaboration with Rutgers University (D. Metaxas)
bullet Generating Accurate, Understandable Sign Language Animations Based on Analysis of Human Signing
  Collaboration with Rutgers University (D. Metaxas) and CUNY Queens (M. Huenerfauth)
bullet Development of Publicly Available, Easily Searchable, Linguistically Analyzed, Video Corpora for Sign Language and Gesture Research
  Collaboration between Boston University (C. Neidle, S. Sclaroff), Rutgers University (D. Metaxas), Gallaudet University (B. Bahan, C. Vogler) and U. Texas Arlington (V. Athitsos)

  Related to American Sign Language

Neidle et al. book jacket

Carol Neidle, Judy Kegl, Dawn MacLaughlin, Benjamin Bahan, and Robert G. Lee (2000) The Syntax of American Sign Language: Functional Categories and Hierarchical Structure. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.


bulletComplete list

Other Publications include:

Carol Neidle (1988) The Role of Case in Russian Syntax. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

Carol Neidle (1982) "Case Agreement in Russian." Chapter 6 in J. Bresnan (ed), The Mental Representation of Grammatical Relations. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Carol Neidle and Rafael A. Nunez Cedeno (eds) (1987) Linguistic Studies in Romance Languages. Dordrecht: Foris Publications.

Carol Neidle (1994) "Lexical Functional Grammar." In The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics. New York: Pergamon Press, 2147-2153. Reprinted in K. Brown and J. Miller (eds) (1996) Concise Encyclopedia of Syntactic Theories. Oxford: Elsevier.

See this article in pdf or download a postscript version.

Joyce Friedman and Carol Neidle (1986) Phonological Analysis for French Dictation: Preliminaries to an Intelligent Tutoring System. Boston University Computer Science Technical Report #86-004, April 1986.


Aarons, Debra (1994) Aspects of the Syntax of American Sign Language. Doctoral dissertation, Boston University, Boston, MA.

Associate Professor (with tenure), Department of General Linguistics (which offered the first specialization in sign language linguistics in South Africa), University of Stellenbosch, South Africa - through 2003. Now a Lecturer in the Department of Linguistics at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

Some recent publications

Aarons, D., and Morgan, R., (2003). Classifier Predicates and the Creation of Multiple Perspectives in South African Sign Language. Sign Language Studies, 3(4), 125-156.

Aarons, D. and Akach, P. (2002). South African Sign Language--one language or many? In R. Mesthrie, ed., Language and Social History. Second edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Aarons, D, and Reynolds, L. (2003). South African Sign Language: Changing Policies and Practices. In L. Monaghan, ed., Many ways to be Deaf. Washington DC and Hamburg: Gallaudet University Press and Signum Press.


Bahan, Benjamin (1996) Non-Manual Realization of Agreement in American Sign Language. Doctoral dissertation, Boston University, Boston, MA.

Current position: Professor and Chair of the ASL and Deaf Studies Department, Gallaudet University, Washington, DC.

Some recent publications

Bahan, B. (2007) Memoir upon the formation of a visual variety of the human race. In Bauman (editor) Open your eyes: Deaf Studies talking. University of Minnesota Press. Also in (2005) B. Eldredge, D. Stringham and M.M. Wilding-Diaz (editors) Deaf Studies Today: A Kaleidoscope of Knowledge, Learning, and Understanding. Utah Valley State College, Orem, Utah.

Bahan, B (2006) Face to Face Tradition in the American Deaf Community: Dynamics of the Teller, Tale and Audience. In Bauman, D., J. Nelson, and H. Rose (eds.) The Poetics of Vision, Performance and the Body: Exploring American Sign Language Literature. A Multimedia Anthology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Bahan, B. and Poole Nash, J. (1996). The Formation of Signing Communities: Perspective from Martha's Vineyard. In J. Mann, ed., Deaf Studies IV Conference proceedings. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University College of Continuing Education.

Lane, H., Hoffmeister, R., and Bahan, B. (1996). A Journey into the Deaf World. San Diego: Dawn Sign Press.


Cahana-Amitay, Dalia (1997) Syntactic Aspects of the Production of Verbal Inflection in Aphasia. Doctoral dissertation, Boston University, Boston, MA.

Current position: Project Manager, MED Neurology, Veterans Administration Center, Boston University, Boston, MA.
Recent position: Assistant Professor, Department of Enlgish, Beit Berl Academic College, Kfar Sabba, Israel.

Some recent publications and presentations:

Ravid, Dorit & Dalia Cahana-Amitay. 2005. Verbal and nominal expression in narrating conflict situations in Hebrew. Journal of Pragmatics, 37:157-183.

Katzenberger, Irit & Dalia Cahana-Amitay. 2002. Segmentation marking in text production. Linguistics, 40(6):1161-1184.

Ragnarsdóttir, Hrafnhildur, Melina Aparici, Dalia Cahana-Amitay, Janet van Hell, Anne Viguié. 2002. Verbal structure and content in written discourse: Expository and narrative texts. Written Language and Literacy, 5(1):95-125.

Verhoeven, Ludo, Melina Aparici, Dalia Cahana-Amitay, Janet van Hell, Sarah Kriz & Anne Viguié. 2002. Clause packaging : a cross-linguistic developmental analysis. Written Language and Literacy, 5(2):135-162.

Cahana-Amitay, Dalia. 1996. On the production of subjects, tense and agreement in two Hebrew-speaking agrammatic patients. Brain and Cognition, 30(30):329-332.


Law, Sam-Po (1990) The Syntax and Phonology of Cantonese Sentence-Final Particles. Doctoral dissertation, Boston University, Boston, MA.

Associate Professor, Dept.of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Hong Kong.
Director, Aphasia, dyslexia and dysgraphia laboratory.

Some recent publications; see also home page:

Law, S.-P., Wong, W., Chiu, K.M.Y. (2005). Preserved reading aloud with semantic deficits: Evidence for a non-semantic lexical route for reading Chinese.Neurocase, 11(3), 167-175

Law, S.-P. (2004). Writing Errors of a Cantonese Dysgraphic Patient and their Theoretical Implications. Neurocase, 10(2), 132-140.

Leung, M.-T. Law, S.-P., and Fung, S.-Y. (2004). Type and token frequencies of phonological units in Hong Kong Cantonese. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers, 36(3), 500-505.

Law, S.-P., and Cheng, M.-Y. (2002). Production of grammatical morphemes in Cantonese aphasia. Aphasiology, 16(7), 693 - 714.

Law, S.-P., and Or, B. (2001). A Case Study of Acquired Dyslexia and Dysgraphia in Cantonese: Evidence for Nonsemantic Pathways for Reading and Writing Chinese. Cognitive Neuropsychology , 18(8), 729-748.

Law, S.-P., and Leung, M.-T. (2000). Sentence processing deficits in two Cantonese aphasic patients. Brain and Language.

Law, S.-P. (2000). Structural prominence hypothesis and Chinese aphasic sentence comprehension. Brain and Language.

Law, S.-P., and Leung, M.-T. (2000). Structural representations of characters in Chinese writing: Evidence from a case of acquired dysgraphia. Psychologia, 43(1), 67-83.

Law, S.-P., Fung, R., & Bauer, R. (2000). Perception and production of Cantonese consonant endings. Asia Pacific Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing.

Law, S.-P., and Leung, M.-T. (1998). Sentence comprehension in Chinese aphasic patients. Aphasiology, 12(1), 49-63.


MacLaughlin, Dawn (1997) The Structure of Determiner Phrases: Evidence from American Sign Language. Doctoral dissertation, Boston University, Boston, MA.

Current position: Technical training specialist at Microsoft.

Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Linguistics, McGill University, 2000-2001.

Some recent publications

MacLaughlin, D. (1995). Language Acquisition and the Subset Principle. The Linguistic Review, 12, 143-191.

MacLaughlin, D. (1998). The acquisition of the morphosyntax of English reflexives by non-native speakers. In M.-L. Beck, ed., Morphology and its interfaces in second language knowledge (pp. 195-226). Philadelphia: John Benjamins.



  Academic Affiliations

Professor of French and Linguistics, Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures/Romance Studies, Boston University, Boston, MA (2001-  )
Associate Professor of French and Linguistics, Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures, Boston University, Boston, MA (1987-2001).

Assistant Professor of French and Linguistics, Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures, Boston University (1982-1987).

Director, Ph.D. Program in Applied Linguistics, Boston University (1988-1994).

Faculty Advisor for the Boston University Conference on Language Development (1988-1994).

Faculty Member, Middlebury College French School, Summers of 1983, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988.



Ph.D. in Linguistics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge MA, 1983.
Dissertation supervisor: Joan Bresnan

M.A. in French, Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT, 1978.

B.A. in Linguistics, Yale University, New Haven, CT, 1978.



Fall 2013


Course Title




CAS LF LX 250 A1

Introduction to Linguistics




Click here to see the times of the discussion sections.

Course Home Page

Spring 2013


Course Title




CAS LF LF 502 A1

French Syntax





American Sign Language Linguistic Research Project picture of Carol Neidle with Aleka Blackwell

More information about the undergraduate program in Linguistics at Boston University
and about the Department of Romance Studies



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