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Özyürek gets ERC Starting Grant

Asli Özyürek, member of the Center for Language Studies of the Radboud University Nijmegen and an affiliated MPI researcher recently received a European Research Council Starting Grant of 1.2 million euro, entitled 'Language in our hands: Acquisition of spatial language in deaf and hearing children'. The project will be executed as part of the Center for Language Studies of the Radboud University Nijmegen and located at the MPI for Psycholinguistics from 2010 to 2015.
Özyürek gets ERC Starting Grant

Jun 04, 2009

Deaf childrens' sign language

In this project Özyürek plans to investigate to what extent our language learning ability is specific to learning a spoken language, and to what extent it is a device general to communicating in any modality.

To do so, she will compare deaf children's sign language acquisition to language acquisition by hearing children in the domain of spatial expressions (e.g. 'the cup is on the table'). Unlike spoken languages, sign language expressions of space visually resemble what is described. Özyürek therefore thinks that deaf children would have an advantage in learning to describe space in the process of language development. The research will be conducted with deaf and hearing children in Turkey.  

Clear signal

'The way in which deaf children learn sign language will provide a new window on the relations between body and language', says Özyürek. 'Receiving this grant is a clear signal that sign language research in  Nijmegen is on the European map.'


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This is the MPI

The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

The institute is situated on the campus of the Radboud University. We participate in the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, and have particularly close ties to that institute's Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging. We also participate in the Centre for Language Studies. A joint graduate school, the IMPRS in Language Sciences, links the Donders Institute, the CLS and the MPI.



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