Department of Linguistics and the College
Diane Brentari’s research investigates the sign languages of the deaf communities of the world. She is interested in comparing and contrasting structures across sign languages in order to understand the language-particular differences among them. She is also interested in identifying properties of our human language capacity that are common in both auditory (spoken) and visual (signed) languages.
Brentari is currently the principal investigator for a National Science Foundation grant, “Grammatical Regularities in Sign Language and Homesign.” The results of this project will compare the phonological systems of mature sign languages with the properties of homesign systems in order to understand the evolution and acquisition of language. She received the University Faculty Scholar Award (2001–06) at Purdue University, where she was the director of the American Sign Language Program.
Brentari earned her PhD in linguistics from the University of Chicago and her MA in speech/language pathology and audiology from the George Washington University. She also has BS and BA degrees, in speech pathology and audiology as well as art history, from the Pennsylvania State University.
Brentari joined the University of Chicago faculty in 2011.