CoEDL Language Documentation grant awarded

PNGSL (Papua New Guinea Sign Language) is PNG’s fourth official language, yet there is no existing documentation it. It is used by educated deaf people living in urban areas, and is the language of a nascent, proud Deaf community.

PNGSL grew out of “Melanesian Sign Language”, which is essentially “rebranded” Australasian Signed English, an artificial sign system imported to PNG for use in deaf education. Due to this history, PNGSL is highly mutually intelligible with Australian Sign Language (Auslan), from which the creators of Australasian Signed English drew many lexical items.

I am delighted to have been awarded a CoEDL Language Documentation grant to explore language attitudes of PNGSL signers in Port Moresby towards PNGSL and to CULTURE SIGN, the name many give to the sign languages they use with their hearing families. This grant will also support a basic photographic dictionary of PNGSL, with a focus on variation. The project is supported by the PNG Deaf Association and the PNG Assembly of Disabled Persons. Fieldwork is planned for one month from October to November 2018.