Areas of Study


My dissertation research will create a grammatical sketch and archives of Zaban Eshareh Irani (ZEI), the sign language used in Iran. ZEI is in critical need of empirical and usage-based research. This research will support the creation of a ZEI grammatical sketch.

A grammatical sketch describes a language’s phonology, morphology, lexicon, and syntax. This corpus-based/language-documentation approach results in replicable, accountable, and accessible language products.

Very little is known about ZEI; what is available is inaccurate and prescriptive, and it seeks to dramatically alter ZEI (Lotfi, Younes, et al., n.d.). This creates an environment of endangerment for ZEI as actually used by the deaf communities in Iran.

ZEI is not officially recognized by the government, and no empirical research is available for training interpreters, creating an accurate dictionary, providing backing for advocacy, or continued linguistic research. Funding is needed to support the annotation and development of archives.

Annotation is a type of linguistic micro-analysis that is used computationally to abstract patterns from archives for macro-analysis. Best practices require annotation to be carried out by fluent researchers who conduct micro-analyses. The result is research that is more representative of the language than that derived from a few participants and a single researcher’s analysis.

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Analysis of the lexicon, phonology, morphology, and syntax of ZEI.

Helen Thumann



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