Ceil Lucas, Gallaudet University: What Variation Tells Us about the Structure of Sign Languages

The Georgetown University Sign Language Research Lab and the Department of Linguistics will jointly host a presentation by Dr. Ceil Lucas, a Georgetown sociolinguistics alumna and Professor Emerita of Gallaudet University. This lecture is hosted by both the Linguistics Speaker Series and the Reflective Engagement in the Public Interest Project: Revitalizing Sign Language Research at Georgetown University. A body of work by Ceil Lucas (Georgetown PhD in Sociolinguistics) has shed light on the social and language-­internal factors at work in language change and dialect divergence and convergence. By studying the evolution and history of a particular ASL dialect (such as Black ASL), missing links in sign language genesis and diversity can be re-forged.



 Ceil Lucas was raised in Guatemala City and Rome, Italy. She is Professor Emerita of Linguistics at Gallaudet University, where she has taught since 1982. She is a sociolinguist with broad interests in the structure and use of sign languages. Her research interests center around the sociolinguistics of Deaf communities, including issues of sociolinguistic variation within signed languages, issues of bilingualism and language contact, language policy and planning, and language attitudes. She is also interested in the structure of sign language discourse.

 She has co-authored and edited many articles and books, and edited the Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities series from 1995- 2010, which has published a yearly volume with Gallaudet University Press and currently edits The Journal of Sign Language Studies. Her publications include:


McCaskill, C., Lucas, C., Bayley, R. and Hill, J.  (2011). The Hidden Treasure of Black ASL: It's History and Structure. (book and DVD). Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press

Lucas, C., & Valli, C. (1992). Language Contact in the American Deaf Community. New York: Academic Press.

Lucas, C., & Valli, C., Mulrooney, K. and Villanueva, M. (2011). Linguistics of American Sign Language (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press. An undergraduate-level text and DVD designed to provide an introduction to the linguistic structure of ASL.

Lucas, C. (ed.). (2001). The Sociolinguistics of Sign Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lucas, C., Bayley, R. and Valli, C. [in collaboration with Mary Rose, Alyssa Wulf, Paul Dudis, Laura Sanheim, and Susan Schatz]. (2001). Sociolinguistic Variation in ASL (Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities, vol. 7). Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.

Lucas, C., R. Bayley, and C. Valli. (2003). What's Your Sign for PIZZA? An Introduction to Variation in ASL. (book and DVD). Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.


Contact: Matthew Malzkuhn, Sign Language Research Lab, Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery, Email: mlm@316@georgetown.edu

Sponsors: The CBPR Sign Language Research Lab and the Department of Linguistics

Friday, March 7, 2014 at 4:00pm to 5:30pm

Poulton Hall, 230
1421 37th St., N.W., Washington

Event Type

Academic Events


Georgetown College, Linguistics



Open to the public and the press?

This event is open to the public. Spoken English-ASL interpretation is provided.

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