Natasha Abner will return to U-M Linguistics this summer as an assistant professor. Abner earned her Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics with highest honors from U-M in 2005. After graduation, she went on to earn her PhD in Linguistics from the University of California, Los Angeles, become a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Chicago, and work as an assistant professor at Montclair State University. Abner’s research interests include sign languages, morpho-syntax, syntax-semantics interface, and language development and emergence.
My research focuses on the grammatical structure of human language, with a particular emphasis on the structural properties of signed languages. I am interested in how modality of production and perception does and does not affect language structure. Thus, I ask what properties signed languages have because they're signed but also what properties signed languages have because they're language. I am also interested in issues of language and cognition as well as language development and emergence in individuals and communities, which I am currently investigating through the lens of homesign and Nicaraguan Sign Language.