Fellows' Presentation

How a Language Was Born

Cognitive, Linguistic, and Social Factors That Led to the Creation of Nicaraguan Sign Language
Photo by Tony RinaldoPhoto by Tony Rinaldo

Part of the 2014–2015 Fellows' Presentation Series

Lecture by Ann Senghas RI '15


As a Radcliffe Institute fellow, Ann Senghas is considering the development she has documented in Nicaraguan Sign Language alongside other emergent systems, including home signs and village sign languages, in order to identify the universal aspects of human experience that give rise to language. This project will extend her approach from a study of individual development to interaction at the community level, drawing from sociological, historical, computational, and anthropological approaches. Through this work, she strives to capture the nature of language at its origin, and the interplay between human cognition, human social experience, and language creation.