CfP: Workshop “Building sign language corpora in North America” (Gallaudet University, May 21-22, 2011)



A workshop titled “Building sign language corpora in North America” will take place at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., on May 21-22, 2011.

There are many definitions of a language corpus. One such definition offered by McEnery, Xiao and Tono (2006) is a collection of texts in a given language that is representative, comprehensive, accessible, machine-readable and searchable. There are several ongoing language corpora projects focused on the documentation of sign languages in countries like Australia, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Germany. To date, there have been several workshops in Europe on various aspects of building a sign language corpus (e.g., the SLCN series of workshops co-organized by Onno Crasborn and colleagues). This workshop will provide a much needed opportunity for researchers based in the US and Canada to share experiences from their work in this area, as well as share ideas for future projects.

We cordially invite abstracts for presentations on any topic broadly related to the development of a sign language corpus, including but not limited to the following:
– What are the methodological issues in building a sign language corpus, and what are the best practices for implementing solutions to them?
– What standards should be adopted for linguistic annotation and metadata, and how can they be aligned with current standards for other sign language corpora?
– How can sign language corpora be used to address linguistic questions?
– How can sign language corpora be used for practical purposes, such as creating language teaching materials?

The workshop will consist of several presentations. On the second day, we will also offer a tutorial on ELAN (a multi-media annotation tool) that will be taught by Julie Hochgesang. In addition, we are happy to say that the following have kindly agreed to come to give invited presentations:
– Ted Supalla (University of Rochester)
– Carol Neidle (Boston University)
– Christian Rathmann (University of Hamburg)
– Diane Lillo-Martin (University of Connecticut)

Please send your abstract (no longer than 500 words) in Word or PDF format by email to by April 15, 2011. Avoid personal information in the abstract, but provide the title, author’s name and affiliation in the body of the email message. You will receive an email confirmation of your abstract submission as soon as it is received. Notification for acceptance of abstracts: April 22, 2011.

Conference languages: We welcome presentations in ASL or International Sign, and will provide ASL/English interpretation.

Julie Hochgesang, Gene Mirus, and Gaurav Mathur (Gallaudet University)

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