University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

Linguistics colloquium will feature Albert Bickford July 19

Albert Bickford will present “Adapting EGIDS for Signed Languages” at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 19, in 300 Merrifield Hall.

The Expanded Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale (EGIDS) is used to measure the vitality of a language, or conversely, the degree to which it is endangered. It was originally developed for spoken, not signed, languages. However, there are more than 100 known sign languages in the world, and it is likely that more will be discovered. Some of these have strong support from their national governments and are used as the medium of instruction for deaf students, suggesting they have the same level of strength as spoken languages which are used as the medium of instruction in government schools in other countries.

Bickford and the creators of the EGIDS scale are revising it so that it can be applied equally well to signed and spoken languages. In this colloquium, Bickford will describe the adaptation process and report on progress to date.

Albert Bickford received his Ph.D. in linguistics in 1987 at the University of California, San Diego, where he was first introduced in detail to the linguistic study of signed languages. He conducted a preliminary survey of Mexican Sign Language in 1988 and has gradually become more involved in sign language research since then, to the point that sign languages are now his major research focus. He has served as the director of the SIL program at UND since 2004 and during the rest of the year lives in Tucson, Ariz., preparing for the next summer of SIL and serving as head of the linguistic publications department for SIL's work in Mexico.

-- Douglas Fraiser, 352-215-2697,

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