Linguistic diversity is one of the mind-blowing characteristics of human languages. Around the world there are more than 7,000 different languages that are continuously used and learned by their respective communities, each with different building blocks and variation within. In this dissertation, Hannah investigated the phonology of the sign language Kata Kolok, examining how it varies and how it is acquired.
The sign language Kata Kolok emerged in a rural enclave in North Bali due to high incidences of hereditary deafness, and is used by a vibrant community of deaf and hearing villagers. Because many villagers can sign, deaf and hearing children acquire the language in a rich setting with many diverse language models. Using a range of different methods and types of data, Hannah examined adult language use to show that Kata Kolok phonology shows great similarities with the phonology of other sign languages while also revealing language-specific patterns. This also holds for acquisition: looking at children’s signing shows that while many aspects appear to be in line with what has been reported for other languages, other aspects appear to be distinct to Kata Kolok.
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