PhD Defence of Dr. Dilay Karadöller available online
On Monday January 17th, 2022, Dilay Karadöller has successfully defended her thesis entitled "Development of Spatial Language and Memory: Effects of Language Modality and Late Sign Language Exposure". You can watch the full video-recording of the defence on the MLC Youtube channel.
The development of spatial language is considered to be determined by an interaction of cognitive and linguistic factors. Thus far, the interplay of these factors has been studied exclusively by focusing on the linguistic variation across different spoken languages and focusing on hearing children who are exposed to language from birth. Dilay’s thesis investigated the role of variation in language modality such as in speech, gesture, and sign as well as the role of variation in the timing of language exposure as in late versus early exposure to sign language as novel perspectives. As such, the thesis enhances our understanding of the relation between linguistic and cognitive factors influencing spatial language development.
In investigating the influence of variation in language modality on spatial language development, the current thesis did not only compare sign to speech but also took speakers’ co-speech gestures into account. Doing so revealed new insights into how iconic forms of spatial expressions inform our understanding of spatial language development. Furthermore, in investigating the influence of variation in the timing of language exposure, the current thesis compared data from child and adult signers who were exposed to sign language late or from birth. This investigation helped uncover to what extent spatial language development depends on early language input or can map onto cognitive understanding of space. Finally, the current thesis examined whether these variations influence the relationship between spatial language use and its relations to subsequent spatial memory performance.
The current thesis contributes to a larger body of knowledge suggesting that the development of spatial language use is shaped by an intricate interplay between the cognitive and linguistic factors. Results have shown that although the variation in language modality and timing of sign language exposure influence the development of spatial language use, these variations do not necessarily predict the relationship between spatial language use and spatial memory.