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Linguistics—Tyneside Style

By Carol Brévart-Demm


This spring, Professor of Linguistics Donna Jo Napoli headed across the Atlantic to Newcastle-on-Tyne, U.K., to spend a semester as the Leverhulme Visiting Professor at the University of Newcastle. The professorship, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, enables renowned academics to spend three to 10 months teaching at a British university.

Napoli’s academic responsibilities at Newcastle include a course in linguistics, two research seminars, and a lecture series on cognitive science. In addition, she was invited to speak at other British institutions, including the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. A prolific and award-winning author of books for children and young adults, Napoli also taught a workshop on writing for children during her stay in Newcastle.

In February, Napoli, one of whose scholarly interests is sign language, wrote: “I came here with the hope that a full semester working on the structure of sign languages and traveling around the country (and nearby countries) talking with sign linguists would allow me the kind of deep plunge into this area that I’ve been longing for. Already, I’m rejoicing at how lucky I am to be here and how much I’ve learned.”

She is the co-author with Rachel Sutton-Spence of the 2009 book Humour in Sign Language: The Linguistic Underpinnings.

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