Current projects:

Degree Modification on the Lower Face (DMLF) focuses on lower face non-manual markers (NMMs), which have been previously described as primarily functioning as manner adverbials and adjectives of size and distance in American Sign Language (ASL) (Liddell, 1980; Baker-Shenk & Cokely, 1980). I propose a third function of lower face NMMs: degree modification. This project thus examines the chin, tongue, cheeks, lips, teeth, and jaw to showcase the various degree modifying properties of a wide variety of lower face NMMs. Thus far, I have examined the NMMs "flat chin" and "tongue flaps (quick, lateral, and vertical)"; both sub-projects are discussed briefly below.

Flat Chin (DMLF) focuses on the non-manual marker (NMM) “flat chin” (aka AU-17) in American Sign Language (ASL). It analyzes both corpus and targeted elicited data to propose possible semantic functions of flat chin in ASL. My current (tentative) analysis shows that flat chin functions as a domain widener, quite different from anything in English. I have presented on my findings SSLL2018, PURC (2018 & 2019), the Purdue Fall Undergraduate Research Expo, and TISLR13. All of these presentations and posters have been coauthored with Dr. Ronnie B. Wilbur, who presented our findings in 2019 at the Automatic Recognition and Analysis of American Sign Language workshop at the University of Chicago. (You can find links to all presentations under Posters & Presentations.)

Tongue Flaps (DMLF) is a new project focusing on a small set of non-manual markers referred to as tongue flaps-- quick tongue flap ('qtf') and tongue flap, both lateral and vertical (both shortened as 'tf'). As with Flat Chin, this project analyzes both corpus and targeted elicited data to propose possible semantic functions of the tongue flaps in ASL.

Projects on Hiatus:

Looking for Regularity in 40 Verbs seeks to analyze elicited American Sign Language (ASL) data from 4 native signers to find patterns among 20 telic and 20 atelic verbs with regards to aspect (particularly habitual aspect).

Co-Location of Associated Referents in ASL is a new project focusing on both the anaphoric (adopting the approach from Schlenker 2011a) and non-anaphoric properties of nominal signs in ASL that share a locus in the sign space to indicate that they are, in some way, semantically linked to one another.

Links to all presentations related to my projects can be found above under the section Posters & Presentations, and all papers related to my projects can likewise be found above under Papers.

Nik is standing smiling next to her poster at TISLR 13 in Hamburg, Germany. She is wearing a black dress and owl necklace, and her hair is long and loose.
L. R. Nikolai with her & Ronnie Wilbur's poster at TISLR13 in Hamburg, Germany in September 2019