Deanna Gagne

Assistant Professor
Department of Linguistics

Deanna Gagne

Secondary Location

SLCC 3217

Office Hours

Summer 2020: please email for an appointment.

I received my PhD from the University of Connecticut in Developmental Psychology with certificates in the Neurobiology of Language and the Cognitive Sciences.  My research focuses on the ways in which children acquire or develop language and the ways that varying language experiences relates to cognitive development.  This could be individually: the way that children learn and influence the language they are learning, or, in the case of homesigning children, the ways in which they create language without having had a language model.  This also could be within a language community, such as the ways in which the language context, including adults as models or other children as peers influence the way that a child learns language.  I work primarily in sign language environments, considering the ways in which deaf and/or hearing children learn and evolve a sign language and its relation to their cognitive development.

As a natively-exposed trilingual (ASL, Spanish, and English), I am also interested in the ways that children acquire more than one language and how the amount and type of exposure to any single language may influence acquisition.  

My approaches engage individuals in the United States, Nicaragua, and other countries whose sign languages may have recently emerged or are still emerging. My methodologies include behavioral psycholinguistic tasks, linguistic elicitation, and eye-tracking as a measure of implicit processing. 

Fall 2018: 

Phonology 1 (LIN 701)

Introduction to First and Second Language Acquisition (LIN 510)

Spring 2019:

Special Topics: Emerging and Village Sign Languages (LIN 595)

Sign Languages and Sign Systems (LIN 101)

Special Topic: Heritage Languages (LIN 799)

Fall 2019

Phonology 1 (LIN 701)

Sign Languages and Sign Systems (LIN 101)

Spring 2020:

Psycholinguistics of Sign Languages (LIN 522)

Sign Languages and Sign Systems (LIN 101)

Fall 2020:

Phonology 1 (LIN 701)

Linguistics Research Experience (LIN 480)

My research focuses on two central themes:

1) The ways in which language is acquired and may change over time depending on socio-linguistic and socio-cognitive influences in children' environments.

2) The unique experiences of using languages in modalities other than the spoken/aural modality and the particular effects these modalities has on language structures and on the cognition-language interface.

These two themes have driven my participation in several research projects which have capitalized on my interdisciplinary background at the juncture of linguistics, psychology and cognitive neuroscience:

  • Theory of Mind and Language
  • The effects of (not) having linguistic peers on language evolution
  • The emergence of linguistic structures in Nicaraguan Sign Language
  • Bimodal Bilinguals and the ways their multimodality informs our understanding of language and cognition
  • Use of vertical space for the expression of set/subset relationships

Gallaudet

800 Florida Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20002

Gallaudet

800 Florida Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20002