Marloes Oomen, ACLC PhD candidate, has been awarded a Niels Stensen Fellowship to carry out postdoctoral research at the Institut Jean Nicod in Paris.
The Niels Stensen Fellowship is awarded annually to 6 or 7 scholars at Dutch universities across all disciplines who have recently received their PhD. The Fellowhip enables them to conduct research abroad at a top university or institute.
Marloes will be working on a project about Neg-raising in sign languages at the Institut Jean Nicod, École Normale Supérieure, in Paris from 1 September 2020 until 31 August 2021.
The aim of formal linguistics is to understand the architecture of all human language, where it is often asserted that some part of language must be innate. As such, claims of universality in language should hold up against scrutiny of all languages – including sign languages – yet linguistic research has predominantly focused on spoken languages. Marloes' project investigates Neg-raising, an understudied phenomenon in sign language linguistics, in three sign languages. Neg-raising constructions have the peculiar property that a negation present in the main clause (‘I don’t think he’s crazy’) is usually interpreted in the embedded clause (‘I think he’s not crazy’). Such constructions are interesting because they can be explained from two opposing theoretical perspectives. Since sign languages have means to express negation that spoken languages do not have, studying Neg-raising in sign languages is expected to reveal more about the underlying structure of these constructions.