Project by Penn linguists documents Philadelphia accent in ASL

Summarized by Jeni Ten Eyck, staff writer

Jami Fisher is a native Philadelphian ASL signer is partnering with Meredith Tamminga from the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) and Julie Hochgesang from Gallaudet University to study the Philadelphian accent of ASL.

With a $10,000 grant from Penn, the team is studying the distinct differences between ASL and the Philadelphian accent in ASL. Based on a model from William Labov, a retired Penn linguist who spent 40 years researching the spoken Philadelphian accent in relation to vowels, the team is interviewing native Philadelphian signers and examining their signs. The team is carefully annotating the videos, which takes hours, as well as helping to preserve ASL in coordination with the Deaf community.

This project could have many applications, including helping interpreters know the city’s specific signs in order to enhance the quality of interpretation.

You can read the full story here.

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